President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he hopes things may work out between the Chinese central government and Hong Kong as protesters intensified demonstrations against a controversial extradition bill which would allow criminal suspects in the city to be sent to mainland China for trial.
According to reports, more than 70 people have been injured as a result of protests over the bill that would allow Hong Kong to extradite fugitives to territories where it doesn’t have formal extradition deals, including mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.
“I don’t know what they’re sending them. That’s a demonstration that they’re having. I understand the reason for the demonstration but I’m sure they’ll be able to work it out. I hope they’ll be able to work it out with China,” Trump was quoted as saying when asked if the protesters are sending any message to China.
Trump said the Hong Kong demonstration he saw was “as big a demonstration as I’ve ever seen.”
“So, I hope it all works out for China and for Hong Kong,” he said.
“I looked today and that really is a million people. A lot of times people talk about, they had 2,000 people but it was really 1,000 or it was 200. I see it all the time.
“But when you look at this demonstration, they said it was a million people. That was a million people,” the President added.
Wednesday’s protests come three days after a peaceful march in central Hong Kong. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, hours after thousands of mostly young protesters surrounded the city’s government headquarters and postponed the debate over the controversial bill.
As violent clashes erupted between protesters and the authorities late Wednesday afternoon (local time), Hong Kong Police Commissioner Steven Lo Wai-Chung said the demonstration was being considered a “riot.”
He added that police had been left with “no choice but to start to use force.”
Many people fear that the proposed extradition law means they could be taken from Hong Kong by Chinese authorities for political or inadvertent business offences.
Trump’s remarks hoping for a resolution between Hong Kong and mainland China comes ahead of a scheduled meeting between the US President and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the G20 in Osaka, Japan, later this month. Both leaders are expected to discuss trade talks amid frosty relations as negotiations broke down abruptly last month.