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China backs Lam, Hong Kong police; calls on HK people to oppose violence

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Press Trust of India Beijing
China on Monday threw its backing behind Hong Kong's beleaguered pro-Beijing Chief Executive Carrie Lam as well as the city's police and called on people in the financial hub to oppose and resist violence.
Hong Kong has been witnessing a violent mass outrage with thousands taking to streets against the government's plan to allow extraditions to the Communist nation.
Weighing its options including deployment of troops to deal with growing pro-democracy protests in the former British colony, a wary China also accused some Western politicians of stirring unrest in the financial hub in hopes of creating difficulties for the country's overall development.
Addressing a much-publicised press conference, Yang Guang and Xu Luying, spokespersons for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, took a number of questions about the current turmoil in Hong Kong, the worst since the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.
They praised Lam and Hong Kong police in dealing with protests mainly carried out by youth and students.
"Since taking office as Hong Kong's chief executive in 2017, Carrie Lam's contribution to public welfare and economic development is well recognised On July 1, we took notice that Lam pledged to govern with a more tolerant and open style. Beijing will resolutely continue supporting her administration," Yang said, brushing aside calls for her resignation.
He also praised Hong Kong police when asked whether China will back appointment of an independent commission of inquiry into police actions.
"Hong Kong police in the past month have been under a lot of pressure. They have done their best to protect society and maintain stability, and have made a great degree of sacrifice," he said.
"We understand the huge pressure facing the Hong Kong police and their families, and would like to salute officers who have been fearlessly sticking to their posts and fulfilling their duties against all odds," Yang said.
The protests which began few weeks ago over the move by Hong Kong Special Administrative Region headed by Lam to introduce a bill to extradite wanted local persons to the Chinese mainland have now turned into a major rebellion with protestors demanding universal franchise of 'one person, one vote' with freedom for all the locals to contest the local elections.
Lam, a former bureaucrat, was elected in 2017 through a controversial process of China vetting contestants for the local legislature which was opposed by the pro-democracy activists.
Her announcement that the bill is dead has not satisfied the protestors who are now calling for its total withdrawal and her resignation.
Answering a spate of questions at Monday's press conference, which is the first since Hong Kong was handed over to China by Britain, Yang and Xu were guarded in their comments on deployment of Chinese troops which was widely believed to provoke more protests.
Asked whether China would deploy its troops stationed at a garrison in the Hong Kong on the streets, Yang said, "the Basic Law has clear statements on that question, and I have nothing to add."

For the first time, the Chinese military on Wednesday warned the protestors in Hong Kong that it could deploy its soldiers to quell the agitation and maintain social order at the request of the city's government.
Yang also spoke of China's bottom line in dealing with the growing dissent in Hong Kong.
"The development in the situation in Hong Kong, especially the violent acts of a small number of radicals, has severely damaged Hong Kong's overall situation of prosperity and stability, severely challenged Hong Kong's rule of law and social order, severely threatened the safety of Hong Kong residents' life and property, crossed the bottom line of the "one country, two systems," which are absolutely intolerable," Yang said.
Asked what Beijing would do to assure Hong Kong that "one country, two systems" - the political system China had agreed during that time of Hong Kong's handover from Britain - would be in place, Yang said, "this depends on how they understand the situation. It is a complete ideology."

He said the bottom line for China is that no harm should be done to its national security and it should pose no challenge to the central government's authority and the Basic Law. Hong Kong also should not be used as a base to undermine China, he said.
Noting that no civilized society ruled by law can tolerate the prevalence of violence, Yang said he hopes that Hong Kong residents can see clearly the seriousness of the current situation, denounce the evil deeds and crimes committed by the radicals and stop their misdeeds damaging the city, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
He called on people in Hong Kong to take a clear-cut stand to oppose and resist violence.
Asked about the criticism of police crackdown in Hong Kong by the US, UK and EU, Yang said, "some irresponsible people from Western countries have made irresponsible remarks...They expect empathy for violent and illegal actions, but when it comes to police work in maintaining law and order and stability in society, protesters believe officers should be held accountable and be condemned. This is ridiculous."

When asked about the reasons for such large scale unrest, Xu said, "there are many deep-rooted problems, such as young people's mobility and housing problems. It's very complicated, and multi-layered."

"We will need multiple ways to solve these problems," she was quoted as saying by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

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First Published: Jul 29 2019 | 4:35 PM IST

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