In Brief

Why are Hong Kong protesters asking for Donald Trump’s help?

Activists march to US consulate singing the American national anthem

Protesters in Hong Kong are asking Donald Trump to assist them in their campaign against Beijing.

Tens of thousands of activists “tried to drag Mr Trump into a dispute from which he has so far kept his distance” when they marched to the American consulate in Hong Kong on Sunday, The Times says.

The demonstrators waved US flags and chanted “Fight for freedom! Stand with Hong Kong!” Some sang the US national anthem as they moved towards the consulate. They presented a petition to consulate staff.

One banner at the march read “President Trump, please liberate Hong Kong” in English. A demonstrator told CNN: “We share the same US values of liberty and democracy. USA is a country of democracy. Donald Trump is elected by his people. We want this.”

The activists want the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act this week. The draft law, introduced in June, would pile pressure on the regime in Beijing by forcing an annual review of Hong Kong's privileged trading status.

If passed, the bill would also freeze the assets and block travel to the States of those judged to be “suppressing basic freedoms” in Hong Kong.

Currently, Hong Kong enjoys special trade status, defining it as a separate trading territory from China. Under this arrangement, Hong Kong can import advanced American technology that is barred to those in China.

However, this deal depends on it remaining “sufficiently autonomous” from the mainland. Protesters say Beijing has breached this red line with increasing interference in the territory’s affairs.

Whether Trump heeds their call remains to be seen. Thus far, the US president has demonstrated no inclination to involve himself in the Hong Kong standoff, which is now into its third month.

In August he said he hoped the demonstrations would eventually work out “for everybody, including China” and that no one would be hurt.

However, Beijing has claimed that Washington is behind the uprising. “It is an open secret in Hong Kong that the forces protesting the extradition bill have been sponsored by the US,” Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times claimed in July.

Several leading Chinese Foreign Ministry officials have repeated the claim but no evidence has been produced and the US State Department says that Chinese claims of their involvement are “ridiculous”.

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