Beijing says violent protests in HK are 'signs of terrorism'

August 13, 2019 15:26
Yang Guang, spokesman of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, voiced anger at the "serious violations" of the law committed by radical protesters. Photo: Xinhua

The "first signs of terrorism" are emerging from the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council said.

In a press conference in Beijing on Monday afternoon, HKMAO spokesman Yang Guang said a few "extremely violent people" threw petrol bombs at several police stations during anti-government protests on Sunday, causing at least one police officer to suffer burns, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Expressing anger at the "serious violations" of the law, Yang said the radical protesters acted frenziedly without considering the consequences of their actions. He also offered his sympathies to the injured officer.

Those violent demonstrators must be dealt with severely and without mercy, he added.

The press conference, the third to be held in the past three weeks since the anti-extradition bill protests began, lasted only three minutes. No questions were taken from the reporters.

HKMAO chief Zhang Xiaoming told Hong Kong delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and local deputies to the National People’s Congress in a meeting in Shenzhen last week that Hong Kong is facing the “most severe situation” since the 1997 handover, noting that the protests have now taken the characteristics of a “color revolution”.

Aside from condemning the violent acts of demonstrators, Yang also reiterated that the central government firmly supports the Hong Kong police and the judiciary in enforcing the law and bringing those who broke the law to justice.

The spokesman also called on people who care about Hong Kong’s future to come forward and say no to the demonstrators’ violent acts, adding that Hong Kong’s most pressing and overriding task now is to stop the violence, end the chaos and restore order.

Also on Monday, Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong issued a statement condemning the "extremely violent acts" carried out by “a small minority” of extremely violent and law-breaking people.

Such violent acts will not be tolerated and, if they spread further, Hong Kong will be moving toward an abyss, the statement said.

Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a senior lecturer at the department of government and public administration of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said likening violent acts to terrorism could pave the way for some kind of suppression, although he believes Beijing has many concerns to address before thinking of deploying its troops to the city.

He also expects the HKMAO will hold a press conference every week to show that Beijing has a good understanding of the situation in Hong Kong.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said the fact that the HKMAO has used the term “terrorism” indicates that Beijing is supporting the police in taking tougher action against the small violent minority among the protesters.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations) Chris Tang Ping-keung told media on Monday that the United Nations has a definition of terrorism, adding that the incidents happening in Hong Kong in recent days can only be described as "violent demonstrations", and police will continue keeping a close eye on such protests.

Asked whether the authorities remain indifferent in the face of serious injuries during protests, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said no one hopes to see injuries either to the police or to the protesters.

He urged the public to cool off and stop expressing their views by means of violence, and instead spend time thinking how Hong Kong should move forward.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching called Beijing’s attempt to "frighten" Hongkongers disgraceful and asked local police to say whether the mainland's public security officers or armed police have gotten involved in their operations.

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