China will not sit back if Hong Kong demos get ‘uncontrollable’ – envoy

Published November 19, 2019, 12:05 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Agence France-Presse

China will not simply sit back and watch if months of protests in Hong Kong develop into an “uncontrollable” situation, Beijing’s ambassador to Britain said Monday.

A protester (C) lowers herself down a rope from a bridge to a highway to escape from the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (AFP Photo/ANTHONY WALLACE)
A protester (C) lowers herself down a rope from a bridge to a highway to escape from the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (AFP Photo/ANTHONY WALLACE/MANILA BULLETIN)

“I think the Hong Kong government is trying very hard to put the situation under control,” Liu Xiaoming told a London press conference, as fresh violence erupted after months of protests.

“But if the situation becomes uncontrollable, the central government would certainly not sit on our hands and watch. We have enough resolution and power to end the unrest.”

The comments from China’s top diplomat in London came after a brief and rare deployment of Chinese troops in Hong Kong over the weekend to clean up streets.

The People’s Liberation Army has a barracks in an upper-class district of Hong Kong.

Asked about a possible intervention, the envoy said: “They are there to show Chinese sovereignty and they are there for defence purposes.”

Liu Xiaoming also warned against “external interference” in internal Chinese affairs, singling out Britain and the United States and accusing them of condoning violence by protesters.

Last week, a Hong Kong government minister was injured as pro-democracy campaigners surrounded her when she arrived for a speaking engagement in London.

Britain, the former colonial power in Hong Kong, on Monday said it was “seriously concerned” about the latest outbreak of violence.

Riot police sought to dislodge several hundred pro-democracy protesters who occupied a university and set fire to its main entrance.

Police – who have been attacked with arrows in recent days – used tear gas and fired live rounds.

“It is vital that those who are injured are able to receive appropriate medical treatment, and that safe passage is made available for all those who wish to leave the area,” the Foreign Office said.

It called for an end to the violence, “and for all sides to engage in meaningful political dialogue ahead of the District Council elections on Sunday”.

The envoy said the “illegal, violent activities” of protesters had “pushed Hong Kong into an extremely dangerous situation.”

The unrest had eroded China’s “one country, two systems” approach to governing Hong Kong, although he said Beijing remained committed to the policy.

He accused demonstrators of trying to destabilize and paralyze Hong Kong to “seize power” in a push for independence.

“Hong Kong citizens live under black terror created by violent extremism with their life and property under severe threat,” he said.

Hong Kong’s economy has slumped into technical recession because of the months of protests, denting its international image as a place to do business, he said.

“The once ‘Oriental pearl’ is turning into the ‘Oriental scar’. Hong Kong, the ‘fragrant harbor’, is sliding into ‘an abyss of chaos’.

“The future of Hong Kong, if such a situation continues, would be unimaginably dreadful.”

Anxious families

Meanwhile, relatives of some of the young pro-democracy protesters holed up inside a Hong Kong university held anxious vigil Tuesday as police vowed to arrest those inside.

Around 100 demonstrators remain barricaded inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) surrounded by riot squads who have been besieging them for three days.

One mother in her 50s, whose surname is Chan, said she was terrified that police would storm the campus with guns blazing and her 18-year-old son would be injured or even killed.

“I’m worried when the police go in to attack there will be heavy casualties, a Tiananmen 2.0,” she said, referring to the 1989 quashing of pro-democracy protests in the Chinese capital that left hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people dead at the hands of the Chinese military.

A woman named Cheung said she had spent last night in a park near a police cordon as she waited for news of her adult son, who she said came to the campus as a first aider.

“I was very, very worried, worried his life could be in danger. He’s scared. He’s scared about being arrested by the cops,” she said.

Demonstrators, who took to the streets in their hundreds of thousands in June over a now-shelved bill that would have allowed extradition to China, are demanding the right to elect their own leaders, as well as an inquiry into alleged police brutality.

Protest tactics morphed in the last 10 days into a “Blossom Everywhere” strategy of disruptive vandalism that has brought much of the transport network to a standstill and shuttered schools.

But the three-day PolyU occupation is the most serious and sustained episode yet.

Another mother, identified by her surname Chung, told the South China Morning Post her 16-year-old daughter was still inside the university, despite assurances that minors would not face any immediate legal action if they surrendered.

“No one can ask her to come out now. She wants to walk out freely, and does not believe the police at all,” she told the paper.

“She communicates with me but refuses to listen to me.”

A father in his 50s, who gave his name as Wong, said his 17-year-old daughter had initially refused to surrender because she feared arrest and a ten-year jail term for rioting, but had finally agreed to come out with her school principal.

“I’m worried about her personal safety, the legal stuff we can sort out later,” he told AFP.

“If the police really go in to clear the place, once they’re inside no one knows what would happen in there. Anything could happen and we can’t predict.

“If in the worst case scenario, they really use live rounds, they could give any story they want and we wouldn’t know what really happened… Who would people believe?”

Cheung said she just wanted her son to come out safely.

“I believe they won’t charge my son, because he’s just helping people… He’s not one of the people in black, he doesn’t have masks at home or any other tools like that, he just came out in jeans, a T-shirt and a windbreaker.”

The government, however, has shown no willingness to compromise, with chief executive Carrie Lam saying Tuesday that those inside the campus had no option but to surrender.

The increasingly unpopular police force has vowed to arrest everyone, insisting that they must face the force of the law.

“If the government is giving up on this generation, then what about the next?… Are they giving up on them too?” asked Cheung.

“What would become of Hong Kong then?”

 
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China will not sit back if Hong Kong demos get ‘uncontrollable’ – envoy

Published November 19, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Agence France-Presse

China will not simply sit back and watch if months of protests in Hong Kong develop into an “uncontrollable” situation, Beijing’s ambassador to Britain said Monday.

A protester (C) lowers herself down a rope from a bridge to a highway to escape from the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (AFP Photo/ANTHONY WALLACE)
A protester (C) lowers herself down a rope from a bridge to a highway to escape from the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (AFP Photo/ANTHONY WALLACE/MANILA BULLETIN)

“I think the Hong Kong government is trying very hard to put the situation under control,” Liu Xiaoming told a London press conference, as fresh violence erupted after months of protests.

“But if the situation becomes uncontrollable, the central government would certainly not sit on our hands and watch. We have enough resolution and power to end the unrest.”

The comments from China’s top diplomat in London came after a brief and rare deployment of Chinese troops in Hong Kong over the weekend to clean up streets.

The People’s Liberation Army has a barracks in an upper-class district of Hong Kong.

Asked about a possible intervention, the envoy said: “They are there to show Chinese sovereignty and they are there for defence purposes.”

Liu Xiaoming also warned against “external interference” in internal Chinese affairs, singling out Britain and the United States and accusing them of condoning violence by protesters.

Last week, a Hong Kong government minister was injured as pro-democracy campaigners surrounded her when she arrived for a speaking engagement in London.

Britain, the former colonial power in Hong Kong, on Monday said it was “seriously concerned” about the latest outbreak of violence.

Riot police sought to dislodge several hundred pro-democracy protesters who occupied a university and set fire to its main entrance.

Police – who have been attacked with arrows in recent days – used tear gas and fired live rounds.

“It is vital that those who are injured are able to receive appropriate medical treatment, and that safe passage is made available for all those who wish to leave the area,” the Foreign Office said.

It called for an end to the violence, “and for all sides to engage in meaningful political dialogue ahead of the District Council elections on Sunday”.

The envoy said the “illegal, violent activities” of protesters had “pushed Hong Kong into an extremely dangerous situation.”

The unrest had eroded China’s “one country, two systems” approach to governing Hong Kong, although he said Beijing remained committed to the policy.

He accused demonstrators of trying to destabilize and paralyze Hong Kong to “seize power” in a push for independence.

“Hong Kong citizens live under black terror created by violent extremism with their life and property under severe threat,” he said.

Hong Kong’s economy has slumped into technical recession because of the months of protests, denting its international image as a place to do business, he said.

“The once ‘Oriental pearl’ is turning into the ‘Oriental scar’. Hong Kong, the ‘fragrant harbor’, is sliding into ‘an abyss of chaos’.

“The future of Hong Kong, if such a situation continues, would be unimaginably dreadful.”

Anxious families

Meanwhile, relatives of some of the young pro-democracy protesters holed up inside a Hong Kong university held anxious vigil Tuesday as police vowed to arrest those inside.

Around 100 demonstrators remain barricaded inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) surrounded by riot squads who have been besieging them for three days.

One mother in her 50s, whose surname is Chan, said she was terrified that police would storm the campus with guns blazing and her 18-year-old son would be injured or even killed.

“I’m worried when the police go in to attack there will be heavy casualties, a Tiananmen 2.0,” she said, referring to the 1989 quashing of pro-democracy protests in the Chinese capital that left hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people dead at the hands of the Chinese military.

A woman named Cheung said she had spent last night in a park near a police cordon as she waited for news of her adult son, who she said came to the campus as a first aider.

“I was very, very worried, worried his life could be in danger. He’s scared. He’s scared about being arrested by the cops,” she said.

Demonstrators, who took to the streets in their hundreds of thousands in June over a now-shelved bill that would have allowed extradition to China, are demanding the right to elect their own leaders, as well as an inquiry into alleged police brutality.

Protest tactics morphed in the last 10 days into a “Blossom Everywhere” strategy of disruptive vandalism that has brought much of the transport network to a standstill and shuttered schools.

But the three-day PolyU occupation is the most serious and sustained episode yet.

Another mother, identified by her surname Chung, told the South China Morning Post her 16-year-old daughter was still inside the university, despite assurances that minors would not face any immediate legal action if they surrendered.

“No one can ask her to come out now. She wants to walk out freely, and does not believe the police at all,” she told the paper.

“She communicates with me but refuses to listen to me.”

A father in his 50s, who gave his name as Wong, said his 17-year-old daughter had initially refused to surrender because she feared arrest and a ten-year jail term for rioting, but had finally agreed to come out with her school principal.

“I’m worried about her personal safety, the legal stuff we can sort out later,” he told AFP.

“If the police really go in to clear the place, once they’re inside no one knows what would happen in there. Anything could happen and we can’t predict.

“If in the worst case scenario, they really use live rounds, they could give any story they want and we wouldn’t know what really happened… Who would people believe?”

Cheung said she just wanted her son to come out safely.

“I believe they won’t charge my son, because he’s just helping people… He’s not one of the people in black, he doesn’t have masks at home or any other tools like that, he just came out in jeans, a T-shirt and a windbreaker.”

The government, however, has shown no willingness to compromise, with chief executive Carrie Lam saying Tuesday that those inside the campus had no option but to surrender.

The increasingly unpopular police force has vowed to arrest everyone, insisting that they must face the force of the law.

“If the government is giving up on this generation, then what about the next?… Are they giving up on them too?” asked Cheung.

“What would become of Hong Kong then?”

 
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