Newspaper article The Canadian Press

White House: 'We Support the Aspirations' of Hong Kong Democracy Protesters

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

White House: 'We Support the Aspirations' of Hong Kong Democracy Protesters

Article excerpt

Canada, U.S., support Hong Kong protesters

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WASHINGTON - Foreign governments expressed support Monday for historic protests in Hong Kong despite a pointed warning from the Chinese government to butt out.

The United States and Canada offered words of encouragement to the tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters whom police tried to disperse with blasts of tear gas and pepper spray.

The street clashes in the global financial capital came up at Monday's White House press briefing, where a spokesman for President Barack Obama said the U.S. was watching the situation closely.

"The United States supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong in accordance with the Basic Law (of 1990), and we support the aspirations of the Hong Kong people," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

"We believe that an open society with the highest possible degree of autonomy and governed by the rule of law is essential for Hong Kong's stability and prosperity. Indeed, this is what has made Hong Kong such a successful and truly global city to this point."

He was asked whether he hoped those aspirations might spread to mainland China and replied: "The short answer to that is yes."

In Ottawa, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Canada was concerned and was monitoring developments closely. Adam Hodge said Canada supported democratic development in Hong Kong under a "One Country, Two Systems" policy that had contributed to the region's stability and prosperity.

China has managed to block most images of the protests from popular websites, shut down social-media sites, and has had relatively little news coverage of the events in its state-controlled media.

On Monday afternoon, the front page of the Xinhua news English-language site contained a story about an anti-government protest -- in Pakistan. It also had a story about one country's clampdown on a vote in one of its autonomy-seeking regions. That country was Spain, and the region was Catalan.

But there wasn't any mention of the huge crowds in Hong Kong. There was one piece on the Mandarin-language version of the site that described an illegal street occupation that was trying to paralyze Hong Kong and blackmail the central and regional governments. …

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