August 15, 2019 08:06
The United States says it is "deeply concerned" by reports of Chinese paramilitary movement along the border with Hong Kong, the Chinese territory that has seen 10 consecutive weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations.
"We encourage China and all parties in Hong Kong to pursue a solution that respects the liberty of Hongkongers and Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, as enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration," said a State Department spokesperson. "It is important for the Hong Kong Government to respect the freedoms of speech and peaceful assembly, as enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and for China to respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy."
As protests have escalated in recent days, China's state-run media have showed videos of security forces gathering across the border in mainland China.
U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday on Twitter, "Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!"
In comments to reporters Tuesday, Trump, who last week took a hands-off stance on the protests, said the Hong Kong situation "is a very tough situation, very tough. We'll see what happens, but I'm sure it will work out." He expressed the hope that no one would get hurt and "for liberty."
There have been fierce clashes between demonstrators and police on Hong Kong's streets. Violence also erupted at the international airport late Tuesday as riot police clashed with pro-democracy demonstrators who had taken over the airport for two straight days.
"We condemn violence and urge all sides to exercise restraint, but remain staunch in our support for freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in Hong Kong," the State Department spokesperson said.
Hong Kong residents have been protesting over their perceived erosion of freedom and lack of autonomy under Chinese control of the territory. The protests present the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of the semi-autonomous territory since its 1997 handover from Britain.
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