Wednesday 23 October 2019

China hits back over US support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protests

Shining a light: Protesters use laser pointers during a demonstration in Hong Kong yesterday. Photo: Getty Images
Shining a light: Protesters use laser pointers during a demonstration in Hong Kong yesterday. Photo: Getty Images

Yanan Wang

A spokesman for China's ceremonial legislature has condemned US politicians' support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement as "a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law".

You Wenze said the Americans' comments were "a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China's internal affairs".

He spoke out as more protests were planned on Sunday following a day of rival rallies which highlighted the political divide in the Chinese territory.

Mr You said Hong Kong's 7.5 million people and the Chinese population as a whole rejected the actions of a "very small group of violent protesters" as well as "any interference of foreign forces".

He did not mention any specific politician, but numerous senators and Congress members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have affirmed the US's commitment to human rights and urged the Hong Kong government to end the stand-off.

The US Congress also has the power to pass legislation affecting Hong Kong's relationship with the US in ways which could further erode the territory's reputation for stability and rule of law.

That includes the recent re-introduction of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would, among other provisions, require the Secretary of State to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong's autonomy to justify special treatment afforded to the city.

US President Donald Trump could issue an executive order suspending Hong Kong's special trading status with the US, a move which could have a devastating effect on the local economy at a time Beijing and Washington are engaged in a bitter trade war.

On Saturday, pro-democracy protesters marched on one side of Hong Kong's famous harbour for the 10th weekend, while a pro-government rally called for an end to the sometimes violent movement.

"The government right now doesn't listen to the people, and the police are too violent," said Bobby Tse, a retiree who watched the pro-democracy march. "It didn't used to be like this. We didn't have to protest every week. But now, even though we have protests every week, the government still gives no response."

At the pro-government rally, speakers said they love both Hong Kong and China and asked protesters why they are afraid of China. Supporters gave a thumbs-up to police officers and posed for photos with them.

A rally has been called for Sunday by a pro-democracy group that has organised three massive marches through central Hong Kong since June.

Members of China's paramilitary People's Armed Police force have been training across the border in Shenzhen, fuelling speculation they could be sent in to suppress protests.

Irish Independent

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