Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks to media over an extradition bill in Hong Kong, China on Tuesday. Tyrone Siu/ Reuters
China’s central government condemned on Tuesday the ransacking of Hong Kong’s legislature and said it backed the city authorities to investigate the “criminal responsibility of violent offenders.”
The semi-autonomous financial hub has been thrown into crisis by weeks of massive demonstrations over a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.
But on Monday — the 22nd anniversary of the city’s handover to China — anger spilled over as groups of mostly young, hardline protesters, broke into the legislative council where they hung Hong Kong’s colonial-era flag and left anti-Beijing graffiti.
“These serious illegal actions trample on the rule of law in Hong Kong, undermine Hong Kong’s social order and harm the fundamental interests of Hong Kong,” the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, said in a statement by an unnamed spokesperson.
“It is a blatant challenge to the ‘one country, two systems’ bottom line. We express our vehement condemnation against this,” the spokesperson said.
Under the terms of the 1997 handover between colonial power Britain to China, Hong Kong is to be governed under its own laws with special rights including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary until 2047.
The statement said Beijing strongly supports Hong Kong’s government and the police.
The central government “also supports the relevant agencies of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to investigate the criminal responsibility of violent offenders in accordance with the law, to restore normal social order as soon as possible, to protect the personal and property safety of the citizens, and to safeguard Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” it said.
Police, widely criticised for failing to better protect the public from the triad raid in Yuen Long, have refused to allow the latest march on safety grounds.
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Saturday's rally was a moment for the establishment to muster their own supporters. Hong Kong's police are in the midst of a major reputational crisis.
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