Thousands of students yesterday formed human chains outside schools across Hong Kong to show solidarity to push for democratic reforms after violent weekend clashes in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.
The silent protest comes as the Hong Kong government condemned the “illegal behavior of radical protesters” and warned the US to stay out of its affairs.
Thousands of demonstrators held a peaceful march Sunday to the US Consulate to seek Washington’s support, but violence erupted later in the day in a business and retail district as protesters vandalized subway stations, set fires and blocked traffic, prompting police to fire tear gas.
Hong Kong’s government agreed last week to withdraw an extradition bill that sparked a summer of protests, but demonstrators want other demands to be met, including direct elections of city leaders and an independent inquiry into police actions.
Protesters in their Sunday march appealed to President Donald Trump to “stand with Hong Kong” and ensure Congress pass a bill that proposes economic sanctions and penalties on Hong Kong and China officials who are found to be suppressing democracy and human rights in the city.
Hong Kong’s government expressed regret over the US bill, known as the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. It said in a statement yesterday that “foreign legislatures should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs” of Hong Kong.
The government said it was “very much in Hong Kong’s own interest to maintain our autonomy to safeguard our interests and advantages under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle” after the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Separately, well-known Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was released yesterday, a day after he was detained at the airport following an oversight in his bail certificate.
A court said Wong’s overseas trips had been approved earlier and his detention was due to mistakes in dates in his bail certificate.
Wong, who visited Taiwan last week, said he will proceed with trips to Germany and the US to raise global awareness about Hong Kong’s fight for democratic reforms.
Germany’s foreign minister welcomed Wong’s release and called it “a good signal.”