Pence urges China to respect Hong Kong laws amid protest

People walk in a street in the Wan Chai neighborhood in Hong Kong, China, on Monday. — Reuters

WASHINGTON — US Vice President Mike Pence urged China on Monday to respect the integrity of Hong Kong's laws and repeated President Donald Trump's warning that it will be harder for the United States to make a trade deal with Beijing if there was violence in the Chinese-ruled city.

"For the United States to make a deal with China, Beijing needs to honor its commitments, including the commitment China made in 1984 to respect the integrity of Hong Kong’s laws through the Sino-British Joint Declaration," Pence said in an address at the Detroit Economic Club.

"And our administration will continue to urge Beijing and the demonstrators to resolve their differences peaceably," Pence said in remarks prepared for delivery.

The Hong Kong protests, which have presented one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012, began in June as opposition to a now-suspended bill that would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts. They have since swelled into wider calls for democracy.

Hong Kong is gearing up for additional protests this week after hundreds of thousands of anti-government demonstrators braved heavy rain to rally peacefully on Sunday, marking a change to what have often been violent clashes.

Trump hinted on Sunday that the White House would like to see Beijing resolve the Hong Kong protests before any agreement on trade is reached.

"I would like to see Hong Kong worked out in a very humanitarian fashion," Trump said. "I think it would be very good for the trade deal." — Reuters