British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was deeply concerned about recent clashes in Hong Kong between riot police and thousands of pro-democracy protesters but stopped short of condemning the use of force by the authorities.
Cameron told Reuters he felt a “deep obligation” to speak out about events in the former British colony which entered a third day of protests Wednesday, the start of a national day holiday.
The protesters are fighting for genuine democracy after China handed Hong Kong an election roadmap for choosing its next leader which they say is a sham.
They have accused Beijing of restricting their freedoms under “one country, two systems”, the governing principle behind the 1997 change of sovereignty to China which promises Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years..“When we reached the agreement with China, there were details of that agreement about the importance of giving the Hong Kong people a democratic future within this two systems approach that we were setting out with the Chinese,” Cameron said.
“So of course I am deeply concerned about what is happening and I hope this issue can be resolved.”
Riot police fired 87 tear gas canisters and used pepper spray in an abortive attempt to disperse the protesters Sunday night and early Monday morning, according to reports.
The government has since withdrawn the riot police but the protesters are pressing on with their demands which now include the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. They are also threatening to occupy government buildings.
On Wednesday, they set a deadline for the government to respond or they will widen the protest which has now spread beyond Hong Kong’s main business and financial hub to four other key areas.
After braving a heavy downpour overnight, they massed around a public square where a China National Day ceremony was taking place.
Meanwhile, a British company which sold teargas to Hong Kong said it will review its sales policy, according to The Guardian.
Also, British officials said they will re-evaluate their policy on future export licenses for teargas to Hong Kong.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain prohibits the use of the type of teargas used against the Hong Kong protesters.
However, he said the canisters used by the Chinese riot police in the mainland were a legitimate export.
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