Options fade for last Hong Kong campus protesters as US bill angers China
The last band of anti-government protesters trapped inside a besieged Hong Kong university were weighing a narrowing range of options early on Wednesday as police outside appeared ready to simply wait them out.Reuters witnesses said fewer than 100 protesters remained inside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University after more than 1,000 were arrested since late on Monday.
Some surrendered, while others were nabbed in escape attempts that included trying to clamber down ropes onto waiting motorbikes. Some protesters resurfaced inside the campus after unsuccessfully probing the sewers for a way out during the night. It was unclear if any had managed to escape that way.
Police searched for potential escapees with spotlights rather than using the tear gas and rubber bullets that had marked clashes in recent days, heeding calls from Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam for a humane end to a siege that saw the most intense clashes since the protests escalated more than five months ago.
They also tightened barricades in the streets surrounding the university, making them secure enough to be visited late on Tuesday night by the force's new commissioner, Chris Tang, at the end of his first day on the job.
China condemns US bill
Chinese leaders say they are committed to the "one country, two systems" formula and have accused foreign countries, including Britain and the United States, of stirring up trouble.
In Washington, the US Senate unanimously passed the "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act", which would require the secretary of state to certify at least once a year that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special US trading consideration and would impose sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations.
The bill must be reconciled with similar legislation approved by the House of Representatives. Senate aides said they expected it to move forward eventually as an amendment to a massive defence bill expected to pass Congress later this year.
China's foreign ministry condemned the passage of the bill, saying the United States should stop interfering in Hong Kong and Chinese affairs and move to stop the latest bills on Hong Kong from becoming law.
The Hong Kong government expressed "deep regret" over the bill's passage.
The unrest that has lasted five months marks the most serious popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
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