The White House issued a statement on Wednesday, reiterating its earlier comments expressing support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, in response to a petition urging the United States government to build pressure on the Chinese government.

“The United States supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong in accordance with the Basic Law and we support the aspirations of the Hong Kong people. We believe that an open society, with the highest possible degree of autonomy and governed by the rule of law, is essential for Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” the White House said, in response to a petition that gathered the signatures of nearly 200,000 people since its creation on Sept. 4.

“We believe that the legitimacy of the Chief Executive will be greatly enhanced if the Basic Law's ultimate aim of selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage is fulfilled and if the election provides the people of Hong Kong a genuine choice of candidates representative of the voters' will,” the response read.

The petition, titled “Support Hong Kong Democracy and Prevent A Second Tiananmen Massacre in Hong Kong,” urged the “U.S. government to make it clear to the Beijing authorities that any effort to crackdown peaceful demonstrations by force will be strongly opposed and severely punished.”

Under U.S. law, if a petition on the White House website collects more than 100,000 signatures within 30 days, it merits an official response from the administration.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is also expected to raise the issue of the Hong Kong protests during his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Washington on Wednesday, according to a Reuters report.

Meanwhile, protests have continued unabated in Hong Kong as demonstrators continue to flood the streets, demanding the resignation of Hong Kong’s chief executive and immediate electoral reforms, according to media reports.