- Beijing on Monday responded to political unrest that has rocked Hong Kong for nearly two months, saying that Hong Kong society will “suffer” if protests continue.
- The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, part of the Chinese central government, held the first press conference of its 22-year history on Monday in Beijing.
- “Hong Kong cannot afford to have instability,” the agency said in an official statement. “Should the chaos continue, it is the entire Hong Kong that will suffer.”
- The statement follows a weekend of clashes between protesters and police as protests show no sign of slowing down.
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Beijing on Monday responded to political unrest that has rocked Hong Kong for nearly two months, saying that Hong Kong society will “suffer” if the protests continue.
The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council, the Chinese government agency responsible for coordination between the mainland and the two territories, on Monday held the first press conference in its 22-year history.
The agency expressed support for embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is facing calls to resign, as well as the Hong Kong Police Force, which has been accused of using unnecessary force against protesters.
Agency spokesperson Xu Luying told press, according to The Australian: “We also believe that Hong Kong’s top priority task right now is to punish violent and unlawful acts in accordance with the law, to restore social order as soon as possible, and to maintain a good business environment.”
The agency warned that protests that the territory will “suffer” unless the protests come to an end.
“What has happened in Hong Kong has gone far beyond the scope of peaceful march and demonstration, undermined Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and touched the bottom line of the principle of ‘one country, two systems,'” the agency said in an official statement.
“Hong Kong cannot afford to have instability,” the statement warned. “Should the chaos continue, it is the entire Hong Kong that will suffer.”
The agency spokesperson also said that Hong Kong’s government needs to address the concerns of young people within society, including affordable housing and employment, according to Reuters.
Hundreds of thousands have gathered in the streets of Hong Kong for nearly two months of protests, some of which have turned violent. What initially started as a protest against a proposed bill that would allow for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China for trial has ballooned into fight to uphold democracy in the semi-autonomous region.
On Saturday, protesters clashed with police in Yuen Long, the same district where masked thugs attacked pro-democracy activists at the train station when they returned from a protest, injuring 45 people. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who had shown up to march despite a police ban from doing so.
On Sunday, a peaceful march through the city’s central business district devolved into violence, as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters attempting to reach the Chinese government’s liaison office in the city. The site was trashed by a group of protesters the week prior.
Some activists have heightened calls for foreign intervention in Hong Kong, which has angered Chinese authorities.
Earlier this month, China’s military arm in Hong Kong carried out “ emergency response exercises” – a display observers perceived as a reminder of China’s ability to step in and use force in Hong Kong if it deems it necessary.
Adam Ni, a researcher on Chinese foreign and security policy at the Australian National University, told the South China Morning Post that the goal of the drills is to send a “blatant message” about China’s ability to intervene.