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New US plea to China for restraint in Hong Kong

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 06:49
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The United States on Monday issued a fresh appeal to Beijing to exercise restraint in Hong Kong, adding it was concerned that British MPs had been barred from visiting the territory.

[WASHINGTON] The United States on Monday issued a fresh appeal to Beijing to exercise restraint in Hong Kong, adding it was concerned that British MPs had been barred from visiting the territory.

"We encourage differences between Hong Kong authorities and protesters to be addressed peacefully through dialogue," State Department spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters.

Washington had conveyed its concerns to both Beijing and the authorities in Hong Kong, she added.

"We continue to call for protesters to express their views peacefully and for Hong Kong authorities to exercise restraint," Ms Psaki said.

Amid fears the semi-autonomous city could face further clashes after one of the most violent nights in the two-month-old pro-democracy protests, Ms Psaki warned "any increase in aggression, we would be concerned about." Hundreds clashed with police as they tried to storm Hong Kong government headquarters late Sunday. Dozens were left injured.

Protesters want fully free leadership elections in 2017, but Beijing has said all candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee.

China has meanwhile refused to grant visas to a delegation of eight British MPs who wanted to visit Hong Kong, which was handed back by London to China in 1997.

Under the terms of the handover, Hong Kong was to enjoy a string of freedoms not granted to the Chinese mainland.

"We are concerned by reports that Beijing intends to deny entry to a group of British members of parliament to Hong Kong," Ms Psaki said.

"We hope the members of parliament will be able to travel freely, as they wish."

AFP