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Chinese consulate claims Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill endorsed draconian Hong Kong security laws

The Irish News


This story was published in Belfast-based daily newspaper The Irish News as a front-page exclusive in its print edition, and via its online platforms.

I revealed how the leaders of Northern Ireland’s devolved government, First Minster Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, were alleged to have endorsed China imposing controversial security laws on Hong Kong.

I translated a report from Belfast’s Chinese Consulate, which claimed the Stormont leaders said in a video call that they “understand and respect” the draconian legislation.

Stormont did not deny its accuracy at the time of going to press, despite being given ample opportunity to do so. The ministers subsequently distanced themselves from the consulate’s account, but have refused to release their minutes of the meeting.

The story was accompanied by an article outlining how Northern Ireland has for years been courting China to develop education and trade links:

This package of stories highlighted to a local audience the international human rights concerns about China’s crackdown on Hong Kong as well as the superpower’s treatment of Uighur Muslims. It also posed questions about the extent to which Northern Ireland’s government at Stormont in Belfast may be willing to turn a blind eye to such concerns.


The story was picked up by various other media outlets, including the BBC (BBC News website, BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme, BBC Newsline), the Press Association, The Irish Times, Belfast Telegraph, News Letter and South China Morning Post:

It also garnered reaction from high-profile pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong including Joshua Wong, who urged Stormont’s leaders to “clarify their stance and stand up for the liberal values that the world cherishes”:

Award-winning filmmaker and investigative journalist Trevor Birney also responded by urging Stormont to “unambiguously” stand with the journalists being targeted under Hong Kong’s new security laws: