Hundreds of uniformed school students, many in masks, formed human chains across Hong Kong yesterday in support of pro-democracy protesters after another weekend of clashes in the city.
At Hong Kong's main stadium on Tuesday night, a sizeable contingent of the crowd of more than 10,000 football fans jeered and held up "boo" signs as China's anthem played before the game, while others chanted "Revolution of our time" and "Liberate Hong Kong".
The region's rights are codified in the "one country, two systems" agreement reached before Hong Kong was handed from British to Chinese control in 1997.
"We have to be careful: We don't want to say we're going to land the 82nd Airborne Division in Hong Kong to do this", Mattis explained.
In May, two former Hong Kong independence activists were granted refugee status in Germany in what is one of the first cases of dissenters from the enclave receiving such protection.
"We hope they can withdraw their black hands in Hong Kong as soon as possible", she said. This came two days after thousands of demonstrators marched to the United States consulate and called on President Donald Trump to "liberate" the city.
The proposed legislation might undermine Hong Kong's particular U.S. commerce privileges by mandating common checks on whether or not authorities have been respecting the Primary Regulation that underpins the town's semi-autonomous standing.
Earlier on Tuesday, the city's Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, warned against foreign interference in Hong Kong's affairs, adding that an escalation of violence could not solve social issues in the Asian financial hub.
The protesters urged the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would require Washington to make an annual assessment of whether Hong Kong was sufficiently autonomous from mainland China to retain special U.S. trade and economic benefits.
The bill would punish officials who suppress basic freedoms in Hong Kong with measures such as freezing their USA -based assets and denying them entry to the country.
Tourist arrivals plunged 40 per cent in August year on year, said Mr Paul Chan, the city's Finance Secretary, with sustained clashes blocking roads and paralysing parts of the city.
Now, three months of protests have evolved into a broader backlash against the government with demands for democracy re-emerging as a rallying cry.
China has lodged a strong protest with Germany after German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met leading Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong.
The government promised last week to withdraw an extradition bill that sparked three months of protests, but failed to placate protesters, whose demands also include democratic reforms and police accountability.
Wong was central to the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
"The escalation and continued violence can not solve the current problems faced by society, and would cause societal conflicts, rift and even hatred to deepen, making our work to resume order and mend rifts more hard".
The protests, beamed live to the world since June, have also prompted some of the city's powerful tycoons to appeal for calm.
Lam's popularity rating rebounded slightly from a record low in a poll partly conducted after her September 4 announcement that she would withdraw controversial legislation that would've allowed extraditions to China, and which first sparked protests in June.
She added, "It is really to express my sincerity to start a dialogue with the people".