BEIJING – Beijing has warned Hong Kong protesters that the local government and police will punish them for breaking the law after a general strike paralyzed the city.
Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said that “radical protests... have severely impacted Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, pushing it into a dangerous abyss.”
“All those people who take the police as their objective or set fire to police stations are creating great harm to society – this has to stop,” he added during a press conference on Tuesday.
“We have to pay attention to the extremists who threw the Chinese national flag into the sea, defying national sovereignty and the principle of ‘one country, two systems’.
“This has gotten out of hand and we have to bring them to justice.”
On Monday, thousands of people joined a general strike in Hong Kong after weeks of unrest in the city.
The protests were triggered by a controversial proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
Yang accused some of the campaigners of believing that “only violence can bring justice.”
He continued: “They have even forced local residents to participate in their actions.
“We must stop this and restore order and law.
“We ask residents to say ‘no’. If the protests continue, who do you think will pay the bill?”
Beijing also reiterated its support for Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam.
Yang said the Hong Kong government was “fully capable of punishing the violent crime in accordance with the law, restore order to society, and restore stability to society.”
“We hope that the people of Hong Kong support Lam, the government and the law, and that those who perpetrate these acts will be brought to justice,” he added.
“Not only the people who protest in the front line, but those who are behind the scenes, organize and support them.”
He defended the Hong Kong police, who have been criticized for their response, and said officers had used “firm methods” to restore order.
“Don’t ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness… Don’t ever underestimate the firm resolve and immense strength of the central government,” he added.
More than 12,000 Chinese riot officers have arrived in the neighboring town of Shenzhen to participate in a mock protest dissolution with a view to celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, police announced on the Weibo social network.