Beijing offers full support to regions leader in rare remarks from government office
China has offered its full support to Hong Kongs embattled leader and its police force, and said violent protesters must be swiftly punished, in rare remarks by the government office that oversees policy towards the territory.
Hong Kong has been rocked by two months of escalating pro-democracy protests that have posed the most significant challenge to Beijings authority since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
In its first press conference since 1997, the state councils Hong Kong and Macau affairs office said the protests were horrendous incidents that have caused serious damage to the rule of law.
No civilised society or rule of law society will tolerate rampant violence, said Yang Guang, a spokesman for the office. Yang said the violence, which he blamed on a few radicals, had seriously undermined Hong Kongs prosperity and stability.
In our view, the most dangerous situation in Hong Kong is that violent crimes have not been effectively stopped, he added. The most important task of Hong Kong at present is to resolutely punish violent crimes according to law, restore social stability as soon as possible, and safeguard Hong Kongs good legal system.
The last eight weeks of protests were sparked by a now delayed bill that would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China, but most recently the anger has pivoted towards the police, who have been accused of using excessive force.
Protesters have also focused their ire on what many believe to be collusion between the authorities and triads, Hong Kongs organised crime groups, after masked and armed thugs conducted vicious attacks on metro commuters, protesters and journalists on 21 July.
At the press conference on Monday the Hong Kong office said rumours of police or Chinese involvement in the attacks were unfounded and insulting.
Echoing statements previously made by state-owned media and other Beijing officials, the spokesman also sharply criticised foreign interference, blaming western politicians for trying to cause trouble in the country.