US Senator Mitch McConnell warns China against crackdown of Hong Kong protests

Protesters throw back tear gas fired by the police during a demonstratrion against the controversial extradition bill in Sham Shui Po district in Hong Kong on August 11, 2019. (AFP photo)
US Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the upper chamber of Congress, has warned China that any violent suppression of protests in Hong Kong would be “completely unacceptable.”

“The people of Hong Kong are bravely standing up to the Chinese Communist Party as Beijing tries to encroach on their autonomy and freedom,” the influential senator wrote in tweet on Monday.

“Any violent crackdown would be completely unacceptable. ... The world is watching,” McConnell added.

Hong Kong’s airport canceled all flights on Monday, blaming demonstrators for the disruptions. China said the anti-government protests that have roiled the city through two summer months had begun to show “sprouts of terrorism.”

Hong Kong is facing its worst political crisis since returning from British to Chinese rule in 1997, with often violent protests having seriously disrupted business in the international financial hub for the past nine weeks.

Clashes were triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law that would have allowed defendants to be sent to mainland China for trial. While the bill has been suspended, the riots have taken a turn for the worse.

The protests have presented Chinese leader Xi Jinping with one of his biggest popular challenges since he came to power in 2012.

China has accused foreign powers, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Last week, the Chinese government slammed Washington after reports emerged that some US diplomats based in Hong Kong had met with riot leaders.