Trump says Hong Kong protesters 'looking for democracy', US urges all sides to avoid violence

Protesters entering Hong Kong's Legislative Council Complex on July 1, 2019. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Donald Trump said on Monday (July 1) that protesters who stormed Hong Kong's parliament want democracy for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

"Well, they're looking for democracy and I think most people want democracy. Unfortunately, some governments don't want democracy," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.

"That's what it's all about. It's all about democracy. There's nothing better."

Earlier, Mr Trump said the unrest in Hong Kong was "very sad."

The United States on Monday urged all sides in Hong Kong to avoid violence after protesters ransacked the territory's parliament on the anniversary of its handover to China.

"We urge all sides to refrain from violence," a State Department spokeswoman said.

"Hong Kong's success is predicated on its rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms, including freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly," she said.

The United States has voiced solidarity with activists who succeeded in blocking - for now - a move by Hong Kong's pro-Beijing authorities to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland, whose communist system is notorious for meting out harsh justice.

During recent protests, police faced accusations of using excessive violence against protesters after firing tear gas and rubber bullets to break up marches.

On Monday's anniversary of Britain's 1997 handover of the financial hub to Beijing, masked protesters broke away from peaceful crowds and broke into the legislature, daubing its walls with anti-government graffiti.

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