HK government should urgently punish criminals and restore order: China

The briefing follows another weekend of clashes between protesters and police, who again fired rubber bullets and tear gas as the demonstrations grew increasingly violent. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

BEIJING - One of the most "dangerous" situations facing Hong Kong now is that "violent crimes have not been effectively stopped", and the most important task of its government is to punish these criminals and restore order to the city, China said on Monday (July 29).

Accusing those who had attacked government offices of "evil and criminal acts", a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said these "horrendous incidents" had caused serious damage to the city's rule of law, economy and its international image.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office handles all administrative work on the two special administrative regions for Beijing.

Its spokesman Yang Guang called on Hong Kong people to "unequivocally oppose and resist violence", saying no society governed by the rule of law would allow such behaviour.

"If Hong Kong continues to be chaotic, the whole society will have to pay the price. The Special Administrative Region government and the people should find effective ways to promote economic development, improve people's livelihood and especially help young people to solve the practical problems of housing, education and employment," said Mr Yang, adding that the Chinese government will work with the Hong Kong authorities in finding solutions.

"Violence is violence, violation of law is violation of law. There is no justification," he said.

Mr Yang was speaking at a news briefing, after protesters and police clashed again over the weekend in the city, prompting the authorities to fire tear gas and rubber bullets.

The first such briefing in Beijing was an attempt by China to make its official position over the worsening political crisis in Hong Kong known.

Trouble started more than a month ago when millions of protesters took to the streets to oppose a now-suspended extradition Bill which would have allowed China to seize suspects in Hong Kong to face courts on the mainland.

The territory has not faced such turmoil since the British handed it back to China in 1997.

Asked several times if Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam would resign, Mr Yang instead praised her work since her appointment in 2017, saying her administration has done much to grow the economy and improve people's lives.

Vowing to uphold the "one country, two systems" principle, Mr Yang spelt out Beijing's three red lines that cannot be crossed: that no one should endanger the sovereignty of the country; challenge the central government's power and Hong Kong's Basic Law; or use Hong Kong to infiltrate and sabotage the mainland.

He also dismissed accusations of white-clad triad members colluding with the police in attacking commuters at Yuen Long MTR station last week, calling them "completely groundless".

While he would not say if the People's Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong would step in to maintain order, Mr Yang reiterated a warning to foreign countries not to meddle in China's domestic affairs.

"Some irresponsible figures in the West have made irresponsible remarks. They have a very weird logic, that violence and criminal activities should receive sympathy, understanding and tolerance," he said.

"Some politicians in the West have made unwarranted remarks and the purpose is to stoke turbulence in Hong Kong in an attempt to contain China's development. Such attempts will lead nowhere," he added.

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