Published: Wed, August 07, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Beijing Issues Stern Warning to Hong Kong Over Protests

Beijing Issues Stern Warning to Hong Kong Over Protests

Protesters in Hong Kong must not "play with fire" and mistake China's restraint for weakness, Beijing has warned, in its sharpest rebuke yet of the demonstrations in the semi-autonomous city.

Hong Kong was hit by widespread strikes Monday that brought chaos to much of the city's transport network, including Hong Kong International Airport, in the most ambitious day of demonstrations since the movement began in June.

Cebu Pacific said it has been advised that the operations of the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) are affected by the general strike on Monday.

"The protests taking place in Hong Kong have gone way beyond the scope of freedom of assembly and demonstration", says Yang Guang, spokesperson for China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO).

The remark has come a day after a series of rallies that included bloody clashes between protesters and pro-government men brandishing poles. Riot officers used tear gas and sponge grenades to subdue the protesters.

Airlines in Malaysia, budget or otherwise, recently informed their customers about the rescheduling and cancellation of flights between Hong Kong and Malaysia.

On Monday, a video has surfaced showing that Hong Kong protesters have learned their lesson and are now well-armed with staffs of their own.

Anti-China forces are the "behind-the-scenes masterminds" of violence in the city, the spokesman claimed.

"We continue to allow these violent protesters to make use of the fugitive offenders bill and these demands to hide their ulterior motives that is going to push Hong Kong to the verge of a very unsafe situation", she said, adding "those ulterior motives are going to destroy Hong Kong, to risk "one country, two systems" and also to proceed with what they call revolution".

"We call on the government to return the power back to the people and to address the demands of Hong Kong citizens", one activist said during the news conference shown on several local TV channels.

The amount of violence and property damage has increased in recent protests, with 10 people injured last week when fireworks were shot from a moving vehicle into a crowd of pro-democracy activists.

Lam told reporters that the protesters had "ulterior motives" that threaten Hong Kong's prosperity and security.

Hong Kong's embattled and deeply unpopular leader, Carrie Lam, appeared in public for the first time in two weeks on Monday morning, condemning the protesters and saying that they had pushed Hong Kong "to the verge of a very unsafe situation" and that they were using opposition to her now-shelved extradition bill as an excuse to undermine Beijing's sovereignty in Hong Kong to "destroy the way of life cherished by the 7 million [residents]". A movement against an extradition bill that would have allowed residents to be sent to mainland China to stand trial has expanded into demands for an investigation into alleged police abuse at protests and the dissolution of the legislature. "Don't ever underestimate the firm resolve and enormous strength of the central government".

A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under the framework of "one country, two systems", which promised the city certain democratic freedoms not afforded to the Communist Party-ruled mainland.

Protesters challenged law enforcement in at least eight districts on Monday, responding to continuous rounds of tear gas with practiced swiftness.

Wang Jiangyu, who is an associate law professor at the National University of Singapore, said that while many mainlanders once had sympathy for the protesters' causes, they now view the situation a bit differently.

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