Interview – Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Norah O’Donnell (Hong Kong Excerpts)

U.S. Department of State

Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Norah O’Donnell on CBS 60 Minutes and

MAY 2, 2021


QUESTION: This week on 60 Minutes we spoke with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He told us China is the biggest foreign policy challenge facing America and threatens the rules-based international order.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: When we see any country that is challenging that order or trying to undermine it, we’re going to stand up in defense of it.

QUESTION: But you have to acknowledge U.S.-China relations are at a low point.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: They’re at a difficult point primarily, in my judgment, for two reasons. We’ve seen China act more repressively at home in recent years, and we’ve seen it act more aggressively abroad beyond its borders.

“There are a number of areas where we are fundamentally at odds, including China’s actions in Xinjiang, with regard to Hong Kong.”

They say hey, these are – this is our business. These are internal matters. Actually no, they’re not. China signed on to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It made solemn commitments to human rights. It’s violating those commitments. They have a commitment in the UN Charter to uphold international peace and security. They are undermining the very commitments they made to the international order. That’s why we say what we say and do what we do.

QUESTION: In response to the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, the Chinese Government passed a national security law that bans what it defines as acts of subversion. That law has been used to arrest pro-democracy activists. And this year, electoral changes were passed that critics say could give China even more political power in Hong Kong’s government.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: The commitments that China made to preserving Hong Kong’s democracy are enshrined in a United Nations treaty. What China has done is effectively quash democracy in Hong Kong, and in so doing it’s violated the commitments that it made when Hong Kong was handed over by the British to China with commitments that were supposed to endure through 2047.

QUESTION: What is the administration going to do about Hong Kong?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Taking action against those directly responsible for quashing democracy in Hong Kong, including through sanctions, including make sure they can’t travel to the United States. I think one of the questions is going to be whether Hong Kong is able to sustain itself as an economic and financial center in – under those conditions. And it may well be that people end up voting with their feet even if they can’t vote at the ballot box. As this continues, companies, people aren’t necessarily going to want to be operating in that environment.

QUESTION: That there’ll be an economic blowback?

SECRETARY BLINKEN: I think there’ll be an economic blowback, and it’s going to find it more and more difficult to do that if it’s facing the opprobrium of a large part of the world.