6 June 2024

The storming of Hong Kong’s legislature by masked demonstrators generated extraordinary scenes, even in a city with a history of raucous protest.

The territory’s leader, Carrie Lam, condemned those involved for what she said was their “extreme use of violence”.

But demonstrators insist they were standing up for their rights in the former British colony against the increasing encroachment of Chinese mainland rule.

Here’s what some global players said:

– Trump: All about democracy –

US President Donald Trump said the protesters wanted self-governance for the semi-autonomous city.

“Well, they’re looking for democracy and I think most people want democracy. Unfortunately, some governments don’t want democracy,” Trump told reporters in an apparent dig at Beijing.

“That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about democracy. There’s nothing better.”

– UK: Unwavering support –

Jeremy Hunt, the present day foreign minister of Hong Kong’s former ruler, Britain, warned protesters against the use of excessive force.

But, he said: “UK support for Hong Kong and its freedoms is UNWAVERING on this anniversary day.

“No violence is acceptable but HK people MUST preserve right to peaceful protest exercised within the law, as hundreds of thousands of brave people showed today,” he added.

– The last governor: Stand up for HK –

Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, said he was “extremely saddened” by the latest violent scenes — though warned that prior heavy-handed policing was partly to blame.

“If you never actually have a dialogue with people, then inevitably it helps to legitimise those who want to do things in a more violent way,” he told the BBC.

Britain should also do more to stand up to China, he added. “We should take a much firmer line… we’re honour bound to stand up for freedom in Hong Kong, the freedoms we promised people for years.”

– EU: Not representative –

The European Union described the legislature break-in as “not representative of the vast majority of demonstrators, who have been peaceful throughout successive protests”.

“In the wake of these incidents, it is all the more important to exercise restraint, avoiding escalatory responses, and to engage in dialogue and consultation to find a way forward,” the EU’s diplomatic arm said.

– China: Mob violence –

In an echo of Carrie Lam’s position, Chinese state media dismissed the protests as “mob violence”.

“Chinese society is all too aware that a zero-tolerance policy is the only remedy for such destructive behaviour”, the state-run Global Times daily wrote in an editorial.

“Otherwise, and without this policy, it would be similar to opening a Pandora’s Box, upending social disorder,” it warned.