USA calls China a ‘thuggish regime’ as Hong Kong feud escalates

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Canada joins the U.S., U.K and Australia in raising travel advisories for Hong Kong

Protesters hold up a banner during a demonstration at Hong Kong International Airport on Friday.

Chanting "Hong Kong people, add oil", and carrying signs such as "all you can eat tear gas available in 13 districts", protesters gathered from midday Friday in the arrivals hall of the airport's main terminal.

"Please forgive us for the "unexpected" Hong Kong", the English leaflets read. "Please forgive us for the "unexpected" Hong've arrived in a broken, torn-apart city, not the one you have once pictured". For emergency consular assistance, they can contact the Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong at 852-3719-4700.

In the last two weeks, as the question "is Hong Kong still safe to visit" became popular on travel websites, more than 20 countries raised their travel advisories for Hong Kong, with the US, United Kingdom and Australia joining earlier this week. Australia and Canada issued similar advisories.

On Thursday, the Chinese foreign ministry's office in Hong Kong issued a formal protest over a reported meeting between USA consular officials in the city and opposition figures, including prominent activist Joshua Wong.

Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao published a photograph of a U.S. diplomat, who it identified as Julie Eadeh of the consulate's political section, talking with student leaders in the lobby of a luxury hotel.

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"I don't think that leaking an American diplomat's private information - pictures, names of their children - I don't think that that's a formal protest, that is what a thuggish regime would do", Morgan Ortagus said at a State Department briefing on Thursday.

Young people have been at the forefront of the protests, anxious about China encroaching on Hong Kong's freedoms but also concerned with issues such as sky-high living costs and what many see as an unfair housing policy favouring the wealthy.

Although the Hong Kong government backed off the extradition bill, activists have insisted it be killed altogether.

Wong said they discussed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which is legislation introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress that seeks to "reaffirm U.S. commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law", amid concerns of the Chinese regime's interference with the city's affairs.

During the rally, students asked Chin whether he would condemn the police's use of excessive force, Chin only said he is not a lawyer and that any violence should be condemned, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

She also accused activists of using the extradition bill as a cover for their real goal, which was to "destroy Hong Kong".

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As the demonstrations have dragged on for more than two months, the patience of authorities and the local business community appears to be fraying.

Ms Lam urged an end to the violence, claiming that the protests were dragging on the city's economy.

The gathering later evolved into a party and carnival with singing, dancing, and hand-shadow puppet shows projected on to the side of the planetarium, a far cry from the tense atmosphere of the recent mass protests against the increasing encroachment of Beijing on the city's freedoms.

"For the past two months, the attacks have caused a serious impact on the economic development and people's wellbeing in Hong Kong", said Yang Guang, a spokesperson for China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office.

And the protests have hit the city's tourism industry, with global arrivals down and hotel bookings tanking, officials say.

Police have fired tear gas, rubber bullets and other projectiles at protesters, with demonstrators responding with metal sticks, bricks, petrol bombs and carts full of burning debris.

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She said activists had printed stickers and banners in more than 16 languages.

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