Date
17 June 2019
US President Donald Trump said he understands the reason for the big demonstration in Hong Kong, and hopes "it all works out for China and for Hong Kong". Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump said he understands the reason for the big demonstration in Hong Kong, and hopes "it all works out for China and for Hong Kong". Photo: Reuters

US, Britain voice concerns after violent protests in Hong Kong

The violent protests outside the Legislative Council complex in Admiralty on Wednesday have prompted the United States and the United Kingdom to voice concerns over Hong Kong’s future, although Beijing, as in the past, strongly opposed any foreign interference in the city’s affairs.

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he understands the “reason for the demonstration” and hopes “it all works out for China and for Hong Kong”, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Trump, revealed that the US leader is likely to bring up the issue surrounding amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition law if he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan later this month.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the US House of Representatives, said in a statement that the US would be forced to reassess its ties with Hong Kong if the extradition bill is passed into law because 85,000 US citizens currently living in the city would be at potential risk.

According to Pelosi, Republican Senator Marco Rubio is expected to once again press ahead with the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which aims to ask the US secretary of state to review every year whether Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy before deciding if it still deserves special treatment from the US on trade and economics.

Following Pelosi’s statement, a bipartisan group of US senators also released a joint statement in which they expressed support for the protesters in Hong Kong opposed to the SAR’s proposed changes to the extradition laws, RTHK reported.

“The extradition law proposed by Beijing loyalists in Hong Kong would allow political dissidents, minorities, and foreign travelers in Hong Kong to be spirited away to China’s secret police on the mainland… We support these demonstrators as they fight for freedom and call on Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to respect their right to peacefully protest,” the statement said.

The European Union said it shared many Hong Kong citizens’ concerns over the proposed extradition reforms and urged an in-depth public consultation, Reuters reported.

“This is a sensitive issue, with potentially far-reaching consequences for Hong Kong and its people, for EU and foreign citizens, as well as for business confidence,” it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt issued a statement urging “the Hong Kong government to listen to the concerns of its people and its friends in the international community and to pause and reflect on these controversial measures”.

Hunt stressed that it is essential for Hong Kong authorities the engage in meaningful dialogue and take steps to preserve the city’s rights and freedoms and high degree of autonomy,

Upholding the “one country, two systems”, which is provided for in the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration, is vital to Hong Kong’s future success, RTHK quoted Hunt as saying.

In response to questions on the matter, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press conference that the central government “firmly support” the Hong Kong government in advancing the revision to the extradition ordinances, adding that “any move that undermines” the city’s prosperity and stability is against the “mainstream public opinion” in the city.

The spokesman also stressed that “China deplores and firmly opposes the irresponsible and erroneous comments” from the US side on Hong Kong’s proposed amendments to the extradition law and its other affairs, and urged the US to “stop in whatever form interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s domestic affairs”.

Asked if it is true that Chinese armed forces are allegedly heading for Hong Kong, Geng called it a “groundless rumor”.

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TL/JC/CG

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