The Latest: US: Hong Kongers should be able to express views
HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on protests in Hong Kong (all times local):
The U.S. consul in Hong Kong has condemned violence among government critics but says all should have the right to express their views peacefully, including foreign residents with longstanding ties to the Asian financial hub.
Kurt Tong delivered his comments to an audience of hundreds of business and political leaders at a U.S. Independence Day celebration on Tuesday, saying Hong Kong had been through a “tough time” recently.
But he said the intentions of those seeking to bring change were good and Hong Kong has “the right ideas and the right values.”
He said the U.S. was disappointed to see the violence and vandalism at the Legislative Council building Monday night. But he said the U.S. would continue to voice its concerns about political and economic issues in the city.
Britain’s foreign secretary says authorities in Hong Kong must not use an outbreak of vandalism during protests as a “pretext for repression.”
Jeremy Hunt says Britain condemns “violence on all sides” after hundreds of demonstrators stormed the Hong Kong legislature and daubed graffiti on the walls.
But he said the authorities need to “understand the root causes of what happened, which is a deep-seated concern by people in Hong Kong that their basic freedoms are under attack.”
Britain is the former colonial power in Hong Kong, which returned to China in 1997. Hunt said Britain remained solidly behind the 1984 U.K.-Chinese declaration enshrining the “one country, two systems” principle of Hong Kong autonomy.
Hunt said: “we stand foursquare behind that agreement, foursquare behind the people of Hong Kong, and there will be serious consequences if that international binding legal agreement were not to be honored.”
China’s foreign ministry has condemned the occupation and vandalization of Hong Kong’s legislature by pro-democracy protesters as “serious illegal acts that trample on the rule of law and endanger social order.”
Spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing condemns the events, in which several hundred demonstrators broke through glass and steel barriers to enter the building overnight.
Geng said Tuesday that China’s central government strongly supports Hong Kong’s government and its police force in dealing with the incident in accordance with law. He also reiterated China’s rejection of any foreign nation commenting on or intervening in protest actions in Hong Kong, saying such matters are a purely Chinese affair and other countries “must not support any violent criminals in any form, and not send any misleading signals or take any erroneous actions.”
Pro-Beijing lawmakers in Hong Kong have condemned the violence and vandalism of government facilities by protesters.
Regina Ip, a former security secretary in the semi-autonomous territory, said such behavior was not acceptable in “civilized society.”
She said there was nothing that could justify “the sort of violence we saw last night.”
She and other lawmakers were protesting over the damage done to the legislative chamber by protesters who forced their way in late Monday as tens of thousands of people marched in the streets.
They also were urging the protesters to cool off and calm down after weeks of demonstrations over a government attempt to change extradition laws to allow suspects to be sent to China for trial.
Chinese state media have run footage of police in Hong Kong clearing protesters from streets in a break with its silence over past days of pro-democracy demonstrations.
Footage aired Tuesday showed police moving into roads surrounding the legislative council, where protesters had smashed through glass and metal barriers to occupy the space for about three hours on Monday night.
Beijing had sought to suppress news of the weeks of protests coinciding with celebrations of Chinese rule. The demonstrations reflect mounting frustration with Hong Kong’s leader for not responding to demands after several weeks of protests sparked by a government attempt to change extradition laws to allow suspects to be sent to China for trial.
Protesters vacated the chamber as police cleared surrounding streets with tear gas and then moved inside.