Hong Kong protests: China warns US not to meddle in ‘internal affairs’

Guardian: The United States and China have clashed over the pro-democracy protests sweeping Hong Kong, with Beijing warning Washington to back off and saying it would not tolerate “illegal acts”.

“The Chinese government has very firmly and clearly stated its position. Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs,” foreign minister Wang Yi told his American counterpart John Kerry, who was standing next to him, just before they went into talks at the state department in Washington on Wednesday.

“All countries should respect China’s sovereignty and this is a basic principle of governing international relations,” Wang said.

“I believe for any country, for any society, no one would allow those illegal acts that violate public order. That’s the situation in the United States and that’s the same situation in Hong Kong.”

Washington has always walked a delicate tightrope in its relations with China, eager to improve trade and economic ties with the world’s second largest economy while also pressing for greater human rights.

Amid a standoff on the streets of Hong Kong, a Chinese territory, Kerry renewed US calls for restraint by the city’s police.

“As China knows, we support universal suffrage in Hong Kong, accordant with the Basic Law,” Kerry told reporters, standing alongside Wang.

The Basic Law is the mini-constitution of Hong Kong, where Beijing is grappling with one of the biggest challenges to its rule of the territory.

“We believe an open society with the highest possible degree of autonomy and governed by rule of law is essential for Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” Kerry added.

“And we have high hopes that the Hong Kong authorities will exercise restraint and respect the protestors’ right to express their views peacefully.”

The Hong Kong demonstrations were triggered after the Chinese government restricted who can run as the commercial hub’s next chief executive, or leader.

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