China’s foreign minister made it clear Beijing would not allow other countries to meddle into its ‘internal affairs’, responding in this way to US Secretary of State’s call for Beijing to grant Hong Kong the “highest possible degree of autonomy.”
The American and the Chinese heads of foreign offices exchanged their views on the massive protests in Hong Kong before their talks at the US State Department on Wednesday.
“Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. “All countries should respect China’s sovereignty. And this is also a basic principle governing international relations. I believe for any country, for any society, no one will allow those illegal acts that violate public order.”
Wang added he believed the current Hong Kong leadership was able to handle the large-scale sit-ins by itself.
The remark was made after US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated Washington’s support for “universal suffrage” in Hong Kong, the main demand put forward by protesters in the Asian financial hub.
“We support universal suffrage in Hong Kong accordant with the Basic Law, and we believe in 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 said.
Wang Yi received the same message from Barack Obama, whom he met later the same day, according to a White House statement about the meeting.
“The United States has consistently supported the open system that is essential to Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity, universal suffrage, and the aspiration of the Hong Kong people,” the statement reads.
Protesters in Hong Kong have been demanding election reform. They’re against the central government’s August decision to only allow Beijing-approved nominees run for the city’s leader post in the next election in 2017.
Sunday’s massive crackdown on thousands of protesters, when police use of tear gas, pepper spray and baton charges did not lead to a dispersal of the crowds. What it did inspire is more anger with Hong Kong’s current leader, Leung Chun-ying, with protesters starting to demand his resignation.
On Wednesday, a leader of the pro-reform protests warned the demonstrators were ready to occupy government buildings if the city’s chief didn’t step down by the end of Thursday.
An unnamed government source close to Leung says Hong Kong’s chief executive is ready to wait for weeks for the protests to quiet down.
“Unless there’s some chaotic situation, we won’t send in riot police… We hope this doesn’t happen,” the source told Reuters. “We have to deal with it peacefully, even if it lasts weeks or months.”