HONG KONG (AP) — Thousands of people streamed into a park in central Hong Kong on Sunday for what organizers hope will be a peaceful demonstration for democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
“We hope that there will not be any chaotic situations today,” said organizer Bonnie Leung. “We hope we can show the world that Hong Kong people can be totally peaceful.”
Leung’s group, the Civil Human Rights Front, has organized three massive marches in Hong Kong since June. While those marches were peaceful, the movement has been increasingly marked by clashes between protesters and police.
In Beijing, a spokesman for China’s ceremonial legislature condemned statements from U.S. lawmakers supportive of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
You Wenze called the lawmakers’ comments “a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law, a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”
He said that Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people and Chinese population as a whole rejected the actions of a “very small group of violent protesters” as well as “any interference of foreign forces.”
You did not mention any specific lawmaker, but numerous U.S. senators and Congress members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have affirmed the U.S. commitment to human rights and urged the Hong Kong government to end the standoff.
Congress also has the power to pass legislation affecting Hong Kong’s relationship with the U.S. in ways that could further erode the territory’s reputation for stability and rule of law.
That includes the recent re-introduction of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in Congress, which would among its other provisions require the secretary of state to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy to justify special treatment afforded to the city.
More directly, President Donald Trump could simply issue an executive order suspending Hong Kong’s special trading status with the U.S., a move that could have a devastating effect on the local economy at a time when Beijing and Washington are engaged in a bitter trade war.
Pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, Sunday, Aug. 18 (Associated Press photo)
On Saturday, pro-democracy protesters marched on one side of Hong Kong’s famous harbor for the 10th weekend while a pro-government rally called for an end to the sometimes violent movement.
Also Saturday, thousands of schoolteachers marched to the official residence of Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, to show support for the protesters who include many students.
Carrying signs that read “Protect the next generation” and umbrellas to ward off intermittent downpours, the teachers tied white ribbons to a metal fence near Government House. They said the government should answer the protesters’ demands and stop using what they called police violence to disperse demonstrators who have taken over streets and besieged and defaced government buildings.
The movement’s demands include Lam’s resignation, democratic elections and an independent investigation into police use of force.
Members of China’s paramilitary People’s Armed Police force have been training for days across the border in Shenzhen, including on Sunday morning, fueling speculation that they could be sent in to suppress the protests.
The Hong Kong police, however, have said they are capable of handling the protests.
Paramilitary police force gathered in Shenzhen (Associated Press photo)