Pompeo says U.S. concerned about Hong Kong violence, says China must honour freedoms

  • World
  • Tuesday, 19 Nov 2019

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Small Group Ministerial at the State Department in Washington, U.S., November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is gravely concerned about deepening political unrest and violence in Hong Kong, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday, urging the city's government to take clear steps to address public concerns.

Speaking at a rare media briefing, Pompeo also said the Chinese Communist Party must honour its promises to the people of Hong Kong in terms of freedoms and liberties.

"The Hong Kong government bears primary responsibility for bringing calm to Hong Kong," Pompeo said. "Unrest and violence cannot be resolved by law enforcement efforts alone. The government must take clear steps to address public concern."

Dozens of protesters staged a dramatic escape on Monday from a university campus sealed off by police. Polytechnic University has been at the centre of a standoff in the past week that has seen the most intense violence in five months of anti-government demonstrations.

Demonstrators are angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in Hong Kong's promised freedoms when the then British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. They say they are responding to excessive use of force by police.

The unrest poses the gravest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012. Beijing denies interfering in Hong Kong's affairs and has blamed Western countries for stirring up unrest.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)

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