Published: Thu, November 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Hong Kong students' sewer escape thwarted; row with Britain grows

Hong Kong students' sewer escape thwarted; row with Britain grows

Chinese vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu summoned the acting United States charge d'affaires, William Klein, to lodge a "strong protest" and demand that the United States prevent the bill from becoming law.

Michael McCaul, top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, denounced China's "authoritarian brutality" on display in Hong Kong as he spoke directly to residents of the territory from the House floor.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the U.S. goal was to "support the extremists and violent elements against China that are trying to mess up Hong Kong. and realise their sinister plot to hinder China's development by taking advantage of the Hong Kong issue".

The Senate's Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would require the USA president to annually review the favourable trade status that Washington grants to Hong Kong.

The four-day standoff between demonstrators and police at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has also rippled overseas, with the UN's human rights office urging a peaceful resolution, while the U.S. senate passed new legislation supporting protesters' demands.

Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she hoped a standoff between police and a hold-out group of anti-government protesters at a university could be resolved and she had told police to handle it in a humane way.

While police and protesters were still confronting each other at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Tang told the South China Morning Post that the violence used by the activists was "very close to terrorism".

Six people were arrested on Wednesday for an attempted escape via the sewers. Styled "The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act", the bill also allows (but does not require) the president to impose sanctions on officials deemed guilty of human rights abuses.

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The two chambers would have to work out their differences before any legislation could be sent to US President Donald Trump for his consideration.

Hundreds of protesters fled from the university or surrendered overnight amid running battles on surrounding streets as police fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets and protesters lobbed petrol bombs and bricks. Police have set up a cordon around the area to prevent anyone from escaping.

Police said almost 800 people had left the campus peacefully by late on Tuesday and they would be investigated, including almost 300 under the age of 18.

"China's going to have to make a deal that I like", Trump said.

Montreal's McGill University, which has a partnership with Hong Kong Polytechnic, says all 17 of its students are accounted for.

Senators also voiced support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters in their speeches. Hong Kong's police gradually are regaining control of the city as large-scale arrests and exhaustion wear out the demonstrators. The two arrested on Wednesday made it about half a kilometre from the university when they emerged and were arrested.

"They just want to starve our children don't they?"

In a strident front-page commentary Tuesday, the People's Daily accused Western politicians of defending "anti-China forces" in Hong Kong. -China trade talks once again swept world markets. Chinese officials with whom I spoke recently think that the trade war accounts for about a third of China's growth slowdown. "Only when we are united to support the HKSAR government, especially law enforcement agencies, can we have peace restored, rioters punished and Hong Kong saved".

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