EU calls for ‘inclusive dialogue’ over Hong Kong tensions

Asia
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BRUSSELS: The European Union on Saturday (Aug 17) called for “inclusive dialogue” to calm tensions in Hong Kong, where ten weeks of protests have plunged the city into crisis and prompted mainland China to take a more hardline tone.

“It is crucial that restraint be exercised, violence rejected, and urgent steps taken to de-escalate the situation,” EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

“Engagement in a process of broad-based and inclusive dialogue, involving all key stakeholders, is essential.”

READ: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

The European Union's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini opened the bloc's new mission in
European Union’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini. (File photo: AFP)

The statement came as Hong Kong protesters kicked off another weekend of protests which had begun over a plan to allow extraditions to mainland China but have widened into a broader call for more rights in the semi-autonomous city.

The new marches came as thousands of pro-government supporters – many waving Chinese flags – gathered in a park to condemn their opponents and support the police, a stark illustration of the polarisation now coursing through the city.

Over the past 10 weeks, millions of people have hit the streets while clashes have broken out between police and small groups of hardcore protesters.

READ: Hong Kong businesses dependent on tourism reel from massive income loss

“For the last two months, large numbers of citizens have been exercising their fundamental right of assembly,” the EU diplomatic chief said.

“However, there has recently been a rising number of unacceptable violent incidents, with risks of further violence and instability.”

READ: Hong Kong protest tensions heat up in Australia

China warned on Thursday that it will not “sit by and watch” the unrest unfolding in Hong Kong, as US President Donald Trump expressed concern over the risk of a violent response to protests.

Trump urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to meet with demonstrators, while US National Security Advisor John Bolton warned Beijing against creating a “new” Tiananmen Square in Hong Kong, referring to the deadly 1989 crackdown on protesters in Beijing.

Chinese state media vowed on Friday that there “won’t be a repeat” of the Tiananmen Square incident if Beijing moves to quash Hong Kong protests, in a rare reference to the crackdown.

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