The U.S. consul general to Hong Kong on Tuesday, July 2, condemned the violence outside the government office complex yesterday, but added that he is hopeful about the future of the territory.

U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong Kurt Tong addressed hundreds of Hong Kong and US business leaders and officials at an Independence Day celebration.

The event was held at a high-class hotel, the morning after hundreds of protesters broke into Hong Kong’s Legislature building.

Tong referred to recent events that had happened. “Clearly, the past several months have been a tough time for the city and some mistakes were made, and there’s been some conflict, said Tong.

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But he added that it is “actually that struggle that makes me optimistic,” alluding to American history and its Constitution. “Mistakes were made. There was conflict, but the intentions were good,” said Tong.

He is hopeful for Hong Kong’s future. “I believe that Hong Kong has the right ideas and the right values, and even the right basic structure in “one country, two systems” to succeed and prosper as a society.”

However, Tong denounced the violence. “The view of the United States is that the right for freedom of expression is both most effective and most proper when it is exercised peacefully.”

Tong stated that the “United States, like many people, was disappointed to see the violence and vandalism yesterday in the Legislative Council.”

Tong retorted at the remarks made by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier Tuesday admonishing the United States for “stop interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.”

Tong stated that the United States has a “legitimate voice” to express concerns. “We have close to 100,000 citizens living here, tens and tens of billions of dollars of investment here, fourteen hundred American companies, 100,000 people in Hong Kong are employed by U.S. companies,” said Tong.

He stated, “So, we feel like we have a legitimate voice to express our concerns about issues of politics or governance or economic policy or the like,” and “We certainly don’t view that as an interference.”

Before walking away from the podium, Tong reiterated “Nobody has to listen to our comments if they don’t want to, but we feel we’re within bounds by expressing ourselves.”