AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Anti-government protesters in Hong Kong joined hands to form human chains across the city today. The protests there have gone on for nearly three months now. And as NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports, today's actions were a bid to win support from the international community.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.
ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong, is one of the many chants in English targeting an international audience. Organizers claim more than 135,000 protesters held hands in lines that snaked across Hong Kong island in the Kowloon Peninsula paralleling subway lines. Tonight's songs included one from the musical "Les Miserables."
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Singing a song of angry men.
KUHN: The protest has been dubbed the Hong Kong Way. It comes 30 years to the day after the Baltic Way, a peaceful protest against Moscow in Soviet-occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Why is that so important, to have an international message at this point?
H Y: People in Hong Kong have tried everything they can.
KUHN: H.Y. is a volunteer standing on the waterfront on Victoria Harbor. She asked that we just use her initials to protect her from retribution by authorities.
H Y: They've taken over the main roads in major city centers for 2 1/2 months, but the government is still not listening.
KUHN: The government has recently pledged to reach out to the public once violent protests, which have occurred sporadically, have stopped. And for now, they have. Last Sunday, organizers said 1.7 million people took to the streets. And for the first time in weeks, there were no clashes and no tear gas. H.Y. says protesters are trying to seize this opportunity.
H Y: I think everybody's really trying to escalate the protest in every way that they can without having the protest turn violent.
KUHN: Before the protest, I spoke to one of the organizers, whose surname is Wu. He asked that I not use his full name to protect him from official reprisals. He says the protesters are seeking a special sort of support from friends in the U.S.
WU: For all the Americans, you can contact your senators and representatives to support or become a co-sponsor to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019.
KUHN: That bill, which was put before the House in June, could take away Hong Kong's special trade status with the U.S. if China fails to respect Hong Kong's autonomy. China considers Hong Kong its own internal affair, which brooks no foreign meddling.
Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Hong Kong. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.