Antony Blinken Deletes Tweet Saying 'We Stand With the People of Hong Kong'

Secretary of State Antony Blinken deleted a tweet on Thursday that criticized the Chinese government's recent actions in Hong Kong and said the U.S. stands with the people of the territory.

Blinken was addressing China's decision to disqualify seven pro-democracy district councilors two days after a deadline had passed for them to provide information to determine whether their oaths of office were valid.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price also copied and posted Blinken's tweet on Thursday and his tweet was still available when accessed by Newsweek on Friday.

The original tweet said: "Beijing should let the voices of all Hong Kongers be heard. The PRC's disqualification of district councillors only weakens Hong Kong's long-term political and social stability.

"We stand with the people of Hong Kong & continue to support their human rights & fundamental freedoms," Blinken wrote.

The South China Morning Post highlighted the fact that Blinken had deleted the tweet in an article on Friday. The article featured a screenshot of the tweet in question. A Twitter advanced search of Blinken's account showed it was not available on Friday morning.

The newspaper reported that Price had also deleted the same tweet but a version of it was accessible on Friday morning. That tweet was sent on September 16 at 6.05 p.m. ET. It is not clear whether this is the original post mentioned by The South China Morning Post.

Blinken later sent another tweet about the same issue, saying: "The PRC's disqualification of seven pro-democracy district councillors undermines the ability of people in Hong Kong to participate in their governance. Governments should serve the people they represent. Decreasing representation goes against the spirit of Hong Kong's Basic Law."

The PRC’s disqualification of seven pro-democracy district councilors undermines the ability of people in Hong Kong to participate in their governance. Governments should serve the people they represent. Decreasing representation goes against the spirit of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 16, 2021

That tweet was sent on September 16 at 5.29 p.m. ET, meaning it was sent before Price's tweet saying the U.S. would "stand" with the people of Hong Kong.

A State Department spokesperson issued a statement to Newsweek on Friday: "The team that manages the Secretary's twitter account mistakenly sent the tweet intended to come from the spokesperson. We fixed that error and tweeted from both accounts, speaking out about Hong Kong authorities' disqualification of pro-democracy district councilors.

"Suggestions that this administrative change was somehow motivated by political concerns is patently untrue. The tweets affirm—in words and in meaning—that the United States stands with the people of Hong Kong. We urge the PRC to allow the people of Hong Kong to meaningfully participate in their governance," the spokesperson said.

Blinken has frequently tweeted criticism of China's behavior toward Hong Kong, including on August 5 when he used the phrase "We stand with the people of Hong Kong."

"Through @POTUS Biden's direction of Deferred Enforced Departure, we are offering a safe haven in the United States to those who fear returning to Hong Kong. We stand with the people of Hong Kong and will continue to stand up for the human rights and freedoms they are guaranteed," Blinken wrote at the time.

A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry in Hong Kong issued a statement on Friday criticizing "irresponsible comments from certain US politicians" and said "no US slanders" would discourage China from ensuring "patriots administering Hong Kong."

The Chinese government has also recently criticized a new security partnership between the U.S., U.K. and Australia, saying a plan for the three governments to co-operate on Australia's nuclear submarine program "undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race."

Anthony Blinken Testifies Before the Senate
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to examine the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, on September 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. Blinken deleted a tweet this week about China's actions in Hong Kong. Bill O'Leary-Pool/Getty Images