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Global backing for protest rights as Trump hopes Hong Kong can ‘work it out’ Global backing for protest rights as Trump hopes Hong Kong can ‘work it out’
(about 2 hours later)
Donald Trump has said he is sure China and Hong Kong “will be able to work it out” as the international community has called for protesters’ rights to be respected and demonstrators vowed not to retreat over their calls for the extradition bill to be scrapped.Donald Trump has said he is sure China and Hong Kong “will be able to work it out” as the international community has called for protesters’ rights to be respected and demonstrators vowed not to retreat over their calls for the extradition bill to be scrapped.
Hong Kong protests: government leader Carrie Lam condemns 'blatant riot'Hong Kong protests: government leader Carrie Lam condemns 'blatant riot'
On Wednesday police used used rubber bullets, batons and teargas against people in Hong Kong protesting against the bill that would tighten Beijing’s grip on the semi-autonomous territory.On Wednesday police used used rubber bullets, batons and teargas against people in Hong Kong protesting against the bill that would tighten Beijing’s grip on the semi-autonomous territory.
The US president, who is engaged in a major trade war with Beijing, said he hoped the protesters could “work it out” with Beijing. “I understand the reason for the demonstration, but I’m sure they will be able to work it out.” He did not say how he thought the issue would be resolved.The US president, who is engaged in a major trade war with Beijing, said he hoped the protesters could “work it out” with Beijing. “I understand the reason for the demonstration, but I’m sure they will be able to work it out.” He did not say how he thought the issue would be resolved.
Opposition to a proposed extradition law has broadened into a wider movement against Hong Kong’s leadership, its relationship with China  and the future of the special administrative region. The protests were triggered by a controversial bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, where the Communist party controls the courts, but have since evolved into a broader pro-democracy movement.
Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has offered a ‘solemn’ personal apology for the crisis and also hinted that she had in effect shelved the controversial legislation. However, protesters criticised her as insincere and said she had ignored their key demands. The demonstrations have continued. Public anger fuelled by the aggressive tactics used by the police against demonstrators has collided with years of frustration over worsening inequality and the cost of living in one of the world's most expensive, densely populated cities.
The bill concerned legal changes that would make it easier to extradite people from Hong Kong to China. Supporters say the amendments are key to ensuring the city does not become a criminal refuge, but critics worry Beijing will use the law to extradite political opponents and others to China. Under the amended law, those accused of offences punishable by seven years or more in prison could be extradited. The protest movement was given fresh impetus on 21 July when gangs of men attacked protesters and commuters at a mass transit station while authorities seemingly did little to intervene. 
The government claims the push to change the law, which would also apply to Taiwan and Macau, stems from the killing last year of a Hong Kong woman while she was in Taiwan with her boyfriend. Authorities in Taiwan suspect the woman’s boyfriend, who remains in Hong Kong, but cannot try him because no extradition agreement is in place.  Underlying the movement is a push for full democracy in the city, whose leader is chosen by a committee dominated by a pro-Beijing establishment rather than by direct elections.
Officials have promised to safeguard against abuses, pledging that no one at risk of political or religious persecution will be sent to the mainland. Suspects who could face the death penalty would not be extradited. Protesters have vowed to keep their movement going until their core demands are met, such as the resignation of the city's leader, Carrie Lam, an independent inquiry into police tactics, an amnesty for those arrested and a permanent withdrawal of the bill.
Hong Kong officials have repeatedly said the bill has not come from the central government in Beijing. However, Beijing has voiced its backing for the changes. Hongkongers have seen Beijing’s influence grow in recent years, as activists have been jailed and pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified from running or holding office. Independent booksellers have disappeared from the city, before reappearing in mainland China facing charges.
Many fear the proposed extradition law will be used by authorities to target political enemies. They worry the new legislation spells the end of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, eroding the civil rights enjoyed by Hong Kong residents since the handover of sovereignty from the UK to China in 1997. Under the terms of the agreement by which the former British colony was returned to Chinese control in 1997, the semi-autonomous region was meant to maintain a “high degree of autonomy” through an independent judiciary, a free press and an open market economy, a framework known as “one country, two systems”.
Many attending the protests say they cannot trust China because it has often used non-political crimes to target government critics. They also fear Hong Kong officials will not be able to reject Beijing’s requests. Legal professionals have also expressed concern over the rights of those sent across the border to be tried. The conviction rate in Chinese courts is as high as 99%. Arbitrary detentions, torture and denial of legal representation of one’s choosing are also common. The extradition bill was seen as an attempt to undermine this and to give Beijing the ability to try pro-democracy activists under the judicial system of the mainland.
Police have clashed directly with demonstrators, and have been accused of standing by during attacks on protesters and commuters by groups of men in white in Yuen Long on 21 July.   Lam has shown no sign of backing down beyond agreeing to suspend the extradition bill, while Beijing has issued increasingly shrill condemnations but has left it to the city's semi-autonomous government to deal with the situation. Meanwhile police have violently clashed directly with protesters, repeatedly firing teargas and rubber bullets.
After the current crisis, analysts believe the Hong Kong government will probably start a new round of retaliatory measures against its critics, while the Chinese government will tighten its grip on the city. Lily Kuo and Verna Yu in Hong Kong
Lily Kuo in Beijing and Verna Yu in Hong Kong
Speaking at the White House, Trump said the demonstrations were massive. “That was a million people. That was as big a demonstration as I’ve ever seen,” he said.Speaking at the White House, Trump said the demonstrations were massive. “That was a million people. That was as big a demonstration as I’ve ever seen,” he said.
“So, I hope it all works out for China and for Hong Kong,” Trump added. “I understand the reason for the demonstration but I’m sure they will be able to work it out. I hope they’re going to be able to work it out with China.”“So, I hope it all works out for China and for Hong Kong,” Trump added. “I understand the reason for the demonstration but I’m sure they will be able to work it out. I hope they’re going to be able to work it out with China.”
The European Union said rights “need to be respected” in Hong Kong. “Over the past days, the people of Hong Kong have exercised their fundamental right to assemble and express themselves freely and peacefully. These rights need to be respected,” the EU’s external affairs ministry statement said.The European Union said rights “need to be respected” in Hong Kong. “Over the past days, the people of Hong Kong have exercised their fundamental right to assemble and express themselves freely and peacefully. These rights need to be respected,” the EU’s external affairs ministry statement said.
“Restraint should be exercised by all sides; violence and escalatory responses must be avoided,” it added.“Restraint should be exercised by all sides; violence and escalatory responses must be avoided,” it added.
The outgoing British prime minister, Theresa May, called for the rights and freedoms set out in the 1984 Sino-British agreement on Hong Kong’s future to be respected.The outgoing British prime minister, Theresa May, called for the rights and freedoms set out in the 1984 Sino-British agreement on Hong Kong’s future to be respected.
“It is vital that those extradition arrangements in Hong Kong are in line with the rights and freedoms that were set down in the Sino-British joint declaration,” May told parliament in London.“It is vital that those extradition arrangements in Hong Kong are in line with the rights and freedoms that were set down in the Sino-British joint declaration,” May told parliament in London.
The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, echoed her words, 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”.The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, echoed her words, 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”.
“It is essential that the authorities engage in meaningful dialogue and take steps to preserve Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms and high degree of autonomy, which underpin its international reputation,” Hunt said.“It is essential that the authorities engage in meaningful dialogue and take steps to preserve Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms and high degree of autonomy, which underpin its international reputation,” Hunt said.
US Representative James McGovern, a Democrat, said he and Republican co-sponsors planned to put forward legislation on Wednesday or Thursday that would likely raise the standard for determining whether Hong Kong was sufficiently autonomous to receive special treatment from the US on trade and economics.US Representative James McGovern, a Democrat, said he and Republican co-sponsors planned to put forward legislation on Wednesday or Thursday that would likely raise the standard for determining whether Hong Kong was sufficiently autonomous to receive special treatment from the US on trade and economics.
“The president should look at the reaction in Congress,” McGovern said. “There is bipartisan outrage over what is happening ... peaceful protesters being met with terrible violence by Hong Kong security forces. It’s unacceptable.”“The president should look at the reaction in Congress,” McGovern said. “There is bipartisan outrage over what is happening ... peaceful protesters being met with terrible violence by Hong Kong security forces. It’s unacceptable.”
The Australian government raised concerns about the proposed amendments to the extradition laws and supported the right to peaceful protest and urged restraint on all sides.The Australian government raised concerns about the proposed amendments to the extradition laws and supported the right to peaceful protest and urged restraint on all sides.
Foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said: “The Australian government believes it is important that any changes to Hong Kong’s extradition arrangements are ... resolved in a way that fully respects Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and upholds the rights and freedoms enshrined in Hong Kon’g Basic Law under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework.”Foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said: “The Australian government believes it is important that any changes to Hong Kong’s extradition arrangements are ... resolved in a way that fully respects Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and upholds the rights and freedoms enshrined in Hong Kon’g Basic Law under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework.”
On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s leader, chief executive Carrie Lam, called the protests “dangerous and life threatening acts”. She noted that some young people in the crowd had expressed their views peacefully, but said the protest had devolved into a “blatant, organised riot”.On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s leader, chief executive Carrie Lam, called the protests “dangerous and life threatening acts”. She noted that some young people in the crowd had expressed their views peacefully, but said the protest had devolved into a “blatant, organised riot”.
Taiwan’s prime minister, Tsai Ing-wen, said her nation supported the protesters. “You may feel your demands for freedom seem to fall on deaf ears, please know that all like-minded friends in #Taiwan & around the world are standing with you,” she tweeted.Taiwan’s prime minister, Tsai Ing-wen, said her nation supported the protesters. “You may feel your demands for freedom seem to fall on deaf ears, please know that all like-minded friends in #Taiwan & around the world are standing with you,” she tweeted.
Utterly saddened to see the images of #HongKong police firing rubber bullets at protesters.To the people of Hong Kong: you may feel your demands for freedom seem to fall on deaf ears, please know that all like-minded friends in #Taiwan & around the world are standing with you. pic.twitter.com/22cCCFdnLrUtterly saddened to see the images of #HongKong police firing rubber bullets at protesters.To the people of Hong Kong: you may feel your demands for freedom seem to fall on deaf ears, please know that all like-minded friends in #Taiwan & around the world are standing with you. pic.twitter.com/22cCCFdnLr
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