Beijing, May 6 (efe-epa).- China on Wednesday warned protesters in Hong Kong against causing more trouble in the semi-autonomous region, vowing it would not stop until it defused the protests that shook the city last year.
Supporters of the pro-democracy movement have already announced that they would return to the streets to demonstrate again after the COVID-19 epidemic disrupted protests that rocked the city for months.
On May 1, the protesters held several rallies before the local police dispersed them.
Faced with the possibility of further escalation, a spokesperson for the State Council Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office underlined that China would not stand idly, but maintain order and safeguard national security against the so-called “destructive forces”.
“The violent forces are destroying the foundation of prosperity and stability in Hong Kong,” said the spokesperson in a statement, terming the protesters as political viruses.
“The central government bears the greatest responsibility for maintaining the constitutional order in the HKSAR (Hong Kong) and for safeguarding national security,” the spokesperson said, stressing on its role of “safeguarding the fundamental interests” of the city and its residents.
“The only correct way is to take a clear and firm stand by saying no to violence,” the spokesperson said.
The official also pointed out that Hong Kong was in a “difficult situation” because of the pandemic, as the economy contracted by 8.9 percent between January and March due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
“However, the biggest culprit comes from inside, as radicals who are blatantly engaging in violence are the most malicious, destructive and toxic forces,” the spokesperson said.
Moreover, in recent months, the Hong Kong authorities have stepped up efforts to crack down on dissent, and have arrested or fined numerous activists and prominent figures in the pro-democracy protests that began in March 2019.
Around the middle of last month, the police arrested at least 14 activists from the pro-democracy movement for allegedly organizing unauthorized protests over the past year.
The protests began in opposition to a controversial extradition bill – which has since been withdrawn – that, according to lawyers and activists, would have allowed Beijing access to “fugitives” in the former British colony.
These demonstrations have mobilized hundreds of thousands of people since June and led to serious clashes with the police, whom they have accused of abuse of power in deterring protests. EFE-EPA