Hong Kong protesters plan shopping mall sit-ins after hill-top human chains

Anti-government protesters gather at Lion Rock in Hong Kong on Friday, September 13, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 14 September 2019

Hong Kong protesters plan shopping mall sit-ins after hill-top human chains

  • Demonstrators also plan to gather outside the British Consulate on Sunday to demand that China honors a Sino-British Joint Declaration that was signed in 1984
  • China says Hong Kong is now its internal affair

HONG KONG: Hong Kong pro-democracy activists plan sit-ins at shopping malls on Saturday after a night in which protesters took to the hills to form lantern-carrying human chains, the latest demonstrations in months of unrest in the Chinese-ruled city.
Demonstrators also plan to gather outside the British Consulate on Sunday to demand that China honors a Sino-British Joint Declaration that was signed in 1984, laying out the former British colony’s future after its return to China in 1997.
Protesters came out peacefully in their hundreds across the territory on Friday, singing and chanting on the Mid-Autumn Festival, in contrast to the violence of many previous weekends when police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.
They have also gathered in malls, with occasional scuffles with flag-carrying China supporters.
The spark for the protests, due to resume on Saturday afternoon, was a now-withdrawn extradition bill and concerns that Beijing is eroding civil liberties, but many young protesters are also angry about sky-high living costs and a lack of job prospects.
The bill would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, but the protests have now broadened into calls for greater democracy.
Hong Kong returned to China under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland — including a much-cherished independent legal system.
China says Hong Kong is now its internal affair. It says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” arrangement and denies meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.
China is eager to quell the unrest before the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1. It has accused foreign powers, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the unrest.
Britain says it has a legal responsibility to ensure China abides by its obligations under the 1984 declaration.
“The Joint Declaration is a legally binding treaty between the UK and China that remains as valid today as it was when it was signed and ratified over 30 years ago,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said in June.
“As a co-signatory, the UK government will continue to defend our position.”
But there is little London can do to force Beijing’s hand, pinning its hopes on closer trade and investment cooperation with the world’s second-largest economy after Britain leaves the European Union as planned at the end of next month.


US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

In this file photo taken on September 8, 2019 US troops walk past a Turkish military vehicle during a joint patrol with Turkish troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha on the outskirts of Tal Abyad town along the border with Turkish troops. (AFP)
Updated 6 min 9 sec ago

US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

  • Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria

WASHINGTON: US Democratic lawmakers, joined by some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, introduced a resolution on Tuesday opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, the latest sign of deep disapproval in Congress of his action.
“We have always maintained that, while certainly needed, a sanctions package alone is insufficient for reversing this humanitarian disaster,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement introducing the resolution.
In addition to Pelosi and Schumer, the resolution was led by Representatives Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mike McCaul, the committee’s top Republican.
It also is backed by Senators Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Todd Young, a Republican member of that panel.
Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria.
Several sanctions bills were introduced in the Senate and House, supported by Democrats and some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, before Trump said he would impose sanctions.
Trump announced a set of sanctions on Monday to punish Ankara, and a senior Trump administration official said on Tuesday that Washington would threaten more sanctions to persuade Turkey to reach a cease-fire and halt its offensive. The measures — mainly a hike in steel tariffs and a pause in trade talks — were less robust than financial markets had anticipated. Trump’s critics derided them as too feeble to have an impact, and the Turkish currency recovered.