Hong Kong Protesters Wave U.S. Flags, Urge Trump to Take Action

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(Bloomberg) -- A group of Hong Kong protesters on Saturday waved American flags, sang the U.S. national anthem and urged President Donald Trump to “liberate” the city from China.

More than a dozen men wearing masks to hide their identities carried the flags as tens of thousands of demonstrators defied a police order to rally in downtown Hong Kong. China has accused the U.S. of stoking the protests that began in June against a bill allowing extraditions to the mainland, and treats any calls for independence as a red line that could justify a harsher crackdown.

“We would like Mr. President Trump to liberate Hong Kong,” said Chris, a 30-year-old protester who declined to give his full name. He also called on Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, saying it was necessary “to give us freedom and defend our constitution and our economy.”

Trump in recent weeks has tied the protests to his trade negotiations with China, telling reporters on Friday that the talks were “keeping down the temperature” in Hong Kong. Speculation has risen that Hong Kong’s government may invoke emergency powers or seek help from Chinese troops to stem the unrest.

Several months ago a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would impose sanctions on officials involved in abductions and require the State Department to annually re-assess whether the city remains autonomous. Removing that status could potentially end Hong Kong’s special trading status, a move that could be devastating for its economy.

“Why we waving the USA flag? It’s because we respect the spirit of the United States,” said Vaughn, 27, as he waved an American flag. Speaking about the U.S.’s fight for independence against Britain, he said “Back then they are also colony, they don’t have the proper right, they don’t have human rights, they don’t have democracy, but they fight for that. And now in the United States constitution they have the right to defend their own democracy.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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