China issues harshest warning against protestors

Updated: Aug 07, 2019, 11:48 IST | Agencies

In its harshest warning yet, Beijing tells pro-democracy protesters that the immense strength of the central government should not be underestimated

China issues harshest warning against protestors
An injured man is attended to after a clash during a protest in Tsuen Wan district of Hong Kong on Monday. Pic/ AFP

Beijing: China warned Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters Tuesday that "those who play with fire will perish by it", a day after the most widespread unrest of the two-month crisis.

In its harshest warning yet Beijing said the immense strength of the central government should not be underestimated.

At a press briefing in Beijing, Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao affairs office of the state council, said the "radical protests... have severely impacted Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, pushing it into a dangerous abyss". Yang said the government still "firmly supports" both the Hong Kong police force — who have been criticised for their handling of the protests — and Carrie Lam, the city's pro-Beijing leader who protesters want to resign. "We would like to make it clear to the very small group of unscrupulous and violent criminals and the dirty forces behind them: Those who play with fire will perish by it," Yang said, adding, "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." The clashes have piled pressure on Chinese President Xi Jinping, and led to speculation that Beijing might be forced to intervene in some capacity, even militarily. Yang, however, seemed to downplay any idea of mainland police or military helping with law enforcement, saying 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".

Yuang Guang
Yuang Guang Pic/ AFP

148 arrested on Monday

Hong Kong police on Tuesday said 148 people were arrested during running battles with protesters the day before, the largest daily toll since huge pro-democracy protests kicked off two months ago. "During the operation on Monday, the police arrested 148 people consisting of 95 males and 53 females, aged between 13 and 63-years-old," said superintendent John Tse.

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