McConnell warns China against 'any violent crackdown' in Hong Kong

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence MORE (R-Ky.) is warning the Chinese government after authorities in Hong Kong reportedly fired tear gas at protesters inside a subway station and charged demonstrators Sunday. 

“The people of Hong Kong are bravely standing up to the Chinese Communist Party as Beijing tries to encroach on their autonomy and freedom,” McConnell tweeted Monday. “Any violent crackdown would be completely unacceptable. As I have said on the Senate floor: The world is watching.”

Hong Kong has been struck by protests for months after authorities proposed a controversial bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. Protesters spoke out against the bill, fearing that it will allow China to threaten Hong Kong’s freedoms and independent legal system.

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the bill in June after thousands of demonstrators organized across the city. The rallies and protests have continued and broadened, however, with demonstrators calling for more democratic reforms in Hong Kong as well as Lam’s removal from office. Hong Kong was guaranteed an independent legal system after it gained independence from British rule under a “one country, two systems” order.

A peaceful sit-in began in Hong Kong’s airport Friday. On Monday, the airport canceled over 100 flights after thousands of people stormed the terminal in response to what they saw as police brutality, in response to authorities' response to a Sunday night protest at a subway station. Police reportedly fired tear gas and charged some of the demonstrators.

This is not the first time McConnell has spoken out about the protests. McConnell addressed the demonstrations on the Senate floor last month, commending the protesters and criticizing the police tactics.

“Hong Kong’s people, emboldened by this rare victory over Beijing’s creeping influence, have continued to exercise their freedom of assembly to reclaim the rights, privileges and autonomy slowly sliced away in recent years by the PRC [China],” McConnell said.

“Protests continue, and with them, countervailing pressures from authorities beholden to Beijing. Increasingly brutal police tactics and pro-mainland vigilantes are drawing blood in an effort to intimidate Hong Kongers back into submission,” he continued.