China has hit out at anti-government protesters in Hong Kong who defaced Beijing's Liaison Office on the island, calling the act "absolutely intolerable".
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday that the "radical demonstrators" had violated the "one country, two systems" principle by which Hong Kong is governed, and Beijing supports the special administrative region's government in punishing them.
"We are resolutely opposed to any external forces intervening in Hong Kong's internal affairs," said the ministry's spokesman Geng Shuang, reiterating a warning.
In a statement on Sunday night, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) labelled the demonstration a "blatant challenge to the central government's authority" that will not be tolerated.
The Hong Kong government has vowed to take action against hundreds of protesters who attacked Beijing's representative office on Sunday night, defacing the national emblem in a show of defiance against China's rule.
The head of the office, Mr Wang Zhimin, yesterday made a rare move in speaking to reporters, describing the attack as "villainous and wicked".
"These (acts) have seriously damaged Hong Kong's highly cherished rule of law spirit... and seriously damaged the feelings of all Chinese people, including seven million Hong Kong compatriots," said Mr Wang.
The Chinese state media also joined the chorus of condemnation yesterday. An editorial in the official China Daily blamed "die-hard rioters", "anti-China forces" and the opposition for Sunday night's blitz.
"Weeks of violence, particularly the latest episode, are more than enough to convince people that those who unleash them under the guise of opposing the now suspended extradition Bill are die-hard rioters who are bent on perpetuating their rascality until they are smacked down and made to bear the full brunt of the law," it said.
It also blamed those in the opposition camp for "providing a convenient platform for these young radicals to unleash violence".
Nationalistic tabloid Global Times called for hardline action against the protesters.
"They must pay the price for their extremism. This is the unchallengeable bottom line of society with the rule of law. They must learn a lesson to take responsibility and get the punishment they deserve," it wrote.
Beijing has ratcheted up its disapproval since protesters stormed the Legislative Council building three weeks ago. But it has so far left it to Hong Kong's autonomous administration to handle the political crisis, and has refused to be provoked into action by the protesters.
Turmoil in HK
The special administrative region in southern China has plunged into its worst crisis in recent history after weeks of anti-government marches and sporadic violent confrontations between police and pockets of hardcore protesters. Here are snapshots of the confrontations on Sunday:
1. HONG KONG GOVERNMENT HQ
Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters march through streets from about 3.30pm.
2. LIAISON OFFICE
At around 7pm, some protesters arrive at the office, which represents the Chinese central government, and pelt it with eggs and daub the walls with graffiti.
3. SHEUNG WAN AND CENTRAL
Anti-government protesters take over streets while riot police fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
4. YUEN LONG
A group of masked, stick-wielding government supporters descend on a group of protesters at a train station at 10.30pm, and many people are beaten up.