Chinese official in Hong Kong says some protest acts 'terrorist in nature'

Police fire tear gas on protesters in Hong Kong, on May 24, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - China's foreign ministry office in Hong Kong said on Monday (May 25) some actions during last year's pro-democracy protests were "terrorist in nature" and "troublemakers" colluded with foreign forces, posing "imminent danger" to national security.

Xie Feng, commissioner of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, made his remarks during a speech on proposed national security legislation in Hong Kong, in which he sought to reassure foreign investors they would not be affected.

Xie said the law tackled secession, subversion, foreign interference and terrorism and would only affect a small number of residents, while for the rest "there was absolutely no need to panic".

"The legislation will alleviate the grave concerns among local and foreign business communities about the violent and terrorist forces," Xie said.

His comments added to a chorus of strengthening government rhetoric against protesters in the Chinese-ruled city, where security officials cited cases involving explosives "commonly used in terrorist attacks overseas" as a growing concern.

The proposed legislation, which could also see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in one of the world's biggest financial hubs, sent Hong Kong's stock market tumbling last week and drew condemnation from Western governments.

Pro-democracy activists fear it would limit rights and freedoms guaranteed under a "one country, two systems" agreement made with Britain on Hong Kong's 1997 return to Chinese rule.

But Xie said the legislation would, in fact, strengthen it and rights would be preserved.

"Do not be intimidated or misled, exploited by those with ulterior motives and in particular, do not be a rumour monger yourself, or join the anti-China forces in stigmatising or demonising the legislation," he said, addressing "law-abiding citizens and foreign internationals who love Hong Kong".

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