The scolding by China’s top diplomat here follows a series of articles in Communist Party-controlled media denouncing Young — who served in Kyrgyzstan during a democratic uprising there in 2005 — as part of an American plot to spread disorder and keep China down.
“Wherever he goes, there is trouble and so-called color revolution,” said Wen Wei Po, a pillar of the party’s still mostly secret political apparatus in Hong Kong. The paper described Young — the son of an Army officer who fought in Korea and Vietnam and served as a military adviser in Taiwan — as coming from “an anti-China, anti-communist family.”
The consulate said Young has done nothing wrong. “We categorically reject any assertion that the behavior of U.S. diplomatic and consular staff in Hong Kong has been anything other than appropriate and in keeping with longstanding diplomatic and consular law and practice,” a spokesman said.
Pro-Beijing groups in Hong Kong have long grumbled about the U.S. Consulate, but the intervention of Lu Xinhua, the foreign ministry’s senior official here, suggested a new push to curb what China views as American interference in Hong Kong and beyond.
Always prickly over alleged foreign meddling, Beijing has grown particularly jittery following this year’s Arab Spring and calls on the Internet for the Chinese to follow suit with a “jasmine revolution.”
China’s push-back, both in Hong Kong and Beijing, has been unusually personal, with state-run media and, on occasion, government officials denouncing American diplomats, including former U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. and his successor, Ambassador Gary Locke.
This, said Li Datong, a Chinese writer and former editor, reflected authorities’ alarm that the Internet has turned previously obscure U.S. envoys into prominent public figures whose remarks and actions get praised — and pilloried — on Web forums and micro-blogs.
“The propaganda department wants to eliminate the influences of the U.S. diplomats as much as possible,” said Li, who was fired as editor of Freezing Point, a weekly journal, after he published an article that partly defended the actions of imperial powers in the 19th century.
First to come under fire was Huntsman, who quit April 30 as ambassador and launched a now sputtering campaign for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
Beijing was furious when the ambassador in February appeared outside a Beijing McDonald’s that online postings had designated as a venue for a “jasmine revolution” protest. Huntsman said he was just out for a stroll with his family. Police blanketed the area and roughed up foreign journalists. No protesters were sighted.