Published: Thu, August 08, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

China warns Hong Kong protesters that punishment is coming

China warns Hong Kong protesters that punishment is coming

Protesters have surrounded a Hong Kong police station to demand the release of a university student arrested for apparently buying laser pointers in the latest confrontation for the Chinese city.

"I would like to warn all of the criminals: don't ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness", their statement said.

Hong Kong has been hit by weeks of sometimes violent protests that began with opposition to a now-suspended extradition law that would have allowed suspects to be tried in mainland courts.

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong has remained in barracks since the protests started in April, leaving Hong Kong's police force to deal with the massive demonstrations.

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.

Hong Kong police arrested almost 150 people during city-wide protests and street battles during Monday's general strike, as the ruling Chinese Communist Party geared up for a top meeting with the city's representatives to discuss the escalating anti-extradition movement.

Carrie Lam pointed out that the protesters' demands have changed since the rallies began and warned that the unrest and violence are pushing Hong Kong "to the verge of a very unsafe situation". The police accused the protesters of engaging in "extremely violent behaviors", which will not be tolerated.

"Hong Kong is facing the most serious situation since its return to China, therefore today's seminar is very important".

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"We call on people from all walks of life in Hong Kong to unequivocally oppose and resist violence", Mr Yang said on July 29, when he also labelled protesters "evil' and "criminals".

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 mainland.

If "our Pearl of the Orient" - as Chinese state media referred to Hong Kong in a recent propaganda push - were to still be seized by protests and strikes on China's National Day on October 1, it would directly undermine Xi's narrative that a strong Communist Party under his muscular leadership is leading the Chinese people toward greatness and unity.

Protesters use makeshift protective gear to avoid tear gas as they attend a demonstration outside Government Complex in Hong Kong.

A small number of violent radicals are at the front with some kind-hearted citizens misguided and coerced in the middle, but the masterminds behind the scenes are the anti-China forces in and out of Hong Kong which have been trying to mess up Hong Kong, the spokesperson said. Hong Kong, Beijing argued on Tuesday, enjoys a privileged role in worldwide financial systems, a status that a small group of radical activists threaten.

Final week, the PLA garrison there issued a video displaying "anti-riot" workouts, and its prime brass warned violence is "completely impermissible".

Just before the council spoke to reporters, a group of anonymous protesters - who wore masks to protect their identities - held their own press conference, in which they condemned what they said was the Government's "empty rhetoric". Major roads and public transit lines were blocked, while at least 77 flights out of the airport were cancelled.

"All in all, the fate of Hong Kong will be decided by all Chinese people including Hong Kong compatriots", Yang said.

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