HONG KONG (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS) - China on Monday (Aug 12) slammed violent protesters in Hong Kong who had used "dangerous tools" to attack police officers, warning that "signs of terrorism are emerging".
"Hong Kong's radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging," said Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council, or Cabinet.
"This wantonly tramples on Hong Kong's rule of law and social order," he said at a press briefing in Beijing.
Hong Kong is at a critical juncture after 10 straight weeks of anti-government protests, Yang said, stressing that stopping the violence, and restoring order is the priority task for Hong Kong now.
Increasingly restive protests have plunged Hong Kong into its most serious political crisis in decades, posing the biggest threat to Beijing's rule of the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city since its handover from Britain in 1997.
Yang, who delivered the televised address in which he backed police handling of the protests, said that those who care about the city should come out against the violence.
On some protesters' act of hurling petrol bombs at police officers in Cheung Sha Wan and the shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui, Yang condemned such attacks as "senseless".
At least one officer was taken to the hospital after suffering burns in the attack at Tsim Sha Tsui. Mob violence broke out elsewhere.
The protests, which was triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law, has morphed into a wider movement for democratic reform and a halt to eroding freedoms.
Beijing has repeatedly criticised the violent protests, but has not taken any forceful action.