The European Union said Wednesday the Hong Kong government must respect citizens rights while all sides should exercise restraint after violent protests against plans to allow extradition to mainland China.
"Over the past days, the people of Hong Kong have exercised their fundamental right to assemble and express themselves freely and peacefully. These rights need to be respected," a statement issued by the EU's external affairs arm said.
"Restraint should be exercised by all sides; violence and escalatory responses must be avoided," it added.
Hong Kong was rocked Wednesday by the worst political unrest since its 1997 handover to China as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who tried to storm parliament and blocked roads in the financial hub.
The violent protests were the latest expression of widespread public anger over the government's controversial Beijing-backed plan to allow extraditions to China.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is championing the law's passage, described the protests as "organised riots" and called for calm to be restored.
The EU said it "shares many of the concerns raised by citizens of Hong Kong regarding the government's proposed extradition reforms, and has conveyed these to the government."
The issue was "sensitive... with potentially far-reaching consequences for Hong Kong and its people, for EU and foreign citizens, as well as for business confidence in Hong Kong," it said.
To chart a way forward, it suggested "an in-depth, inclusive public consultation would help," urging the government to pursue this option.
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