BEIJING • The Chinese state media has ramped up the rhetoric against Hong Kong's anti-government protesters, describing them yesterday as "mobsters".
It warned that they must never be appeased, and raised the spectre of mainland security forces intervening to quash them.
On Monday, Beijing described the violent unrest in Hong Kong - which started as opposition to a controversial extradition Bill but has morphed into calls for democratic reform - as "signs of terrorism emerging".
The Chinese state media has repeatedly issued harsh criticism of the protests, which are the biggest threat to Beijing's rule in the semi-autonomous city since the handover from British rule in 1997.
The official state news agency Xinhua warned in a commentary yesterday that "violent radicals" were pushing Hong Kong into an "abyss", and warned that there should be no compromise to their demands.
"Any connivance or support for the mobsters, any appeasement of them, or sophistry and excuses for them are an insult to and a defamation of the Hong Kong police force guarding their homeland," the commentary said, adding that the unrest posed "great harm to Hong Kong's overall interests".
The nationalistic tabloid The Global Times noted that the "most extreme demonstrators have been attacking the police and using increasingly dangerous weapons".
"Their hysterical purpose is to paralyse the SAR government and combat the authority of the police," the newspaper said in a commentary, referring to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
On its nightly news broadcast on Monday, state broadcaster CCTV called the protests "extreme acts of violence (which are) tantamount to blatant murder".
"Those Hong Kong chaotic elements are a sludgy, muddy water in the historical torrent, which will be cleaned up," the news anchor said.
In a video posted on its Weibo channel, a CCTV anchor warned viewers: "When dealing with terrorism, there is no soft hand."
The Global Times and the People's Daily ran a minute-long video comprising clips of armoured personnel carriers and troop carriers purportedly driving to Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong.
Mr Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, wrote on microblogging platform Weibo: "If the violent elements in Hong Kong do not understand this principle and fail to see the signal of the gathering of armed police in Shenzhen, their actions will be self-destructive."
He said it was "easy for the state to smash the set of thugs" in Hong Kong. "If they do not pull back from the cliff and continue to push the situation further beyond the critical point, the power of the state may come to Hong Kong at any time."