Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters plan to convey their message to the US consulate on Sunday after another night of violence in the 14th week of unrest in the Chinese-ruled city.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday urged the Chinese government to show restraint in Hong Kong.
Esper made the appeal in Paris as police prevented protesters from blocking access to the city’s international airport and fired tear gas for the second night in Mong Kok, the most densely populated place on Earth. The area has an average of 130,000 people packed inside each square kilometer.
The protesters set fire to the streets and police threw several protesters. Hong Kong returned to China’s rule in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” formula, which ensures the city’s residents enjoy freedoms not allowed on the mainland. Many Hong Kong residents fear Beijing will curtail the autonomy.
China denies accusations of interference and says Hong Kong is an internal affair, condemning the protests, accusing the United States and Britain of fomenting unrest and warning of damaging the economy.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced concessions last week in a bid to end the protests, including the official repeal of the unpopular extradition bill for China. But many said their movements were insufficient and came too late.
The bill would have allowed the extradition of suspects to China despite the existence of an independent judicial system in Hong Kong dating back to British rule.
Demonstrations have turned into calls for more democracy, and many protesters have vowed to continue.
The State Department has updated its travel advice to Hong Kong and warned that US citizens and consular staff have become targets of a recent China propaganda campaign “falsely accusing the United States of fomenting unrest“.