US condemns latest Hong Kong violence, UK says escalation 'deeply disturbing'

US condemns latest Hong Kong violence, UK says escalation 'deeply disturbing'

Office workers run away from tear gas as they attend a flash mob anti-government protest
Office workers run away from tear gas as they attend a flash mob anti-government protest at the financial Central district in Hong Kong. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday (Nov 11) condemned "unjustified use of deadly force" in the latest Hong Kong violence, while the British government said the escalation was "deeply disturbing".

The two governments weighed in after Hong Kong police shot and critically wounded a protester and a man was set on fire in violence that prompted Chief Executive Carrie Lam to denounce "enemies of the people".

Man set on fire in Hong Kong
These screengrabs from a video circulating on Telegram show a man being doused in clear liquid and then set on fire. 

"Hong Kong police and civilians alike have a responsibility to de-escalate and avoid violent confrontations," A senior Trump administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In a separate statement, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus urged Beijing to honour commitments that "Hong Kong will 'enjoy a high degree of autonomy' and that the people of Hong Kong will enjoy human rights the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly".

READ: Hong Kong on edge as police fire tear gas at university campus

Ortagus said the United States was watching the situation in Hong Kong with "grave concern" and condemned violence on all sides.

"The United States urges the Hong Kong government to build on its dialogue with the Hong Kong public and begin efforts to address the underlying concerns driving the protests. We also urge the protesters to respond to efforts at dialogue," she said.

A British Foreign Office spokesman called Monday's events "deeply disturbing". "We are seriously concerned by the ongoing violence, and the escalation between protesters and police," he said.

Hong Kong, a former British colony which was handed back to China in 1997, has been gripped by a wave of protests over the last five months.

READ: Hong Kong leader says protesters 'paralysing' the city are selfish

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street office earlier urged for "calm and restraint on all sides", saying he supports "the right to peaceful protests".

"Political dialogue is the only way forward and we want to see the Hong Kong authorities agree a path to resolve this situation," he added.

Protesters on Monday reacted to the shooting of one of their own by rampaging through train stations, barricading streets and vandalising shops throughout the day.

A man seen arguing with protesters was set on fire and volleys of tear gas were fired at lunchtime in the heart of the city's financial centre.

Hong Kong authorities said that both the demonstrator who was shot and the man set on fire were in critical condition in hospital.

READ: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

Follow us on Telegram for the latest on Hong Kong: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: Agencies/de/jt

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