China has said the anti-government protests in Hong Kong have become a “serious challenge to the rule of law”, reiterating its support for the financial hub’s leader and police in the wake of another day of street clashes.
The semi-autonomous territory has been rocked by demonstrations over the past two months that began over changes to extradition laws but have since grown into a wider movement against the Beijing-backed government and alleged police brutality.
On Sunday, police repeatedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas to drive back protesters blocking Hong Kong streets with signs and umbrellas.
In rare public comments on Monday, a spokesman for Beijing’s top office on Hong Kong policy called on people in the territory “to unequivocally oppose and boycott violence”.
“The recent developments, especially the acts of violence by a small number of radical elements, have seriously undermined the broad interests of Hong Kong for prosperity and stability,” said Yang Guang, of China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.
“They pose a serious challenge to the rule of law and public order in Hong Kong, and to the life and property of Hong Kong residents. They’ve also crossed the red line of the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ and by no means should be tolerated.”
Yang said Hong Kong’s top priority was to “punish violent and unlawful acts”, adding that some Western politicians were stirring unrest in hopes of creating difficulties that would impede China’s development. He did not name any individuals or countries.