U.S. Senate leader: Any violent crackdown in Hong Kong would be completely unacceptable
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warned China on Monday that any violent crackdown on protests in Hong Kong would be “completely unacceptable.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters following the weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
“The people of Hong Kong are bravely standing up to the Chinese Communist Party as Beijing tries to encroach on their autonomy and freedom,” the influential senator wrote in tweet.
“Any violent crackdown would be completely unacceptable. … The world is watching.”
Increasingly violent demonstrations in Hong Kong have plunged the Chinese-ruled territory into its most serious crisis in decades, presenting Chinese leader Xi Jinping with one of his biggest popular challenges since he came to power in 2012.
Some Hong Kong legal experts say official descriptions of some protesters’ actions as terrorism could lead to the use of extensive anti-terror laws and powers against them.
China’s People’s Armed Police also assembled in the neighboring city of Shenzhen for exercises, the Chinese state-backed Global Times newspaper said.
Hong Kong’s airport canceled all flights on Monday, blaming demonstrators for the disruptions. China said the anti-government protests that have roiled the city through two summer months had begun to show “sprouts of terrorism.”
Republican U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been seeking a major deal to correct trade imbalances with China, has drawn some criticism at home after he described the Hong Kong protests as “riots” this month and said they were a matter for China and Hong Kong to deal with as the territory was part of China.
Last week, the U.S. State Department sharply criticized reports in official Chinese media about a U.S. diplomat who met with student leaders of the Hong Kong protests.
On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus called China a “thuggish regime” for disclosing photographs and personal details of the diplomat. On Friday, Ortagus said the reports had “gone from irresponsible to dangerous” and must stop.
China has accused foreign powers, particularly the United States, of fomenting the demonstrations in Hong Kong.
Britain, Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler, is concerned about the latest violence in Hong Kong and wants calm from all sides, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Jonathan Oatis