Chinese President Xi Jinping faces a major test in Hong Kong after protesters stormed the semi-autonomous city’s legislature and graffitied a defiant message on its walls: “Hong Kong is not China”.
Beijing has trod carefully since massive protests erupted last month over a bill that would allow extraditions to the mainland, voicing support for the Hong Kong government without directly intervening and blaming “foreign forces” for the unrest.
But protesters may have pushed Beijing’s patience to the limit on Monday as they ransacked Hong Kong’s legislature, hung the colonial-era flag in the chamber and spray-painted anti-Beijing messages.
“It is a blatant challenge to the ‘one country, two systems’ bottom line. We express our vehement condemnation against this,” the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, said in a statement.
The protests came on the anniversary of the 1997 handover from colonial power Britain to China, which gave Hong Kong its own system of rule until 2047 — including rights such as freedom of speech and an independent judiciary that are not enjoyed in mainland China.
SHANGHAI, July 2 (Reuters) – A Chinese state paper on Tuesday called for “zero tolerance” after protestors in Hong Kong stormed and ransacked the city’s legislature following a day of protests against a controversial extradition bill.
Tensions over the weeks-long movement against the bill escalated on Monday, and Hong Kong police fired tear gas early on Tuesday to disperse hundreds of defiant protesters who had occupied the city’s legislature on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 return to Chinese rule.
“Out of blind arrogance and rage, protestors showed a complete disregard for law and order,” the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said in an editorial.
“Chinese society is all too aware that a zero-tolerance policy is the only remedy for such destructive behavior witnessed. Otherwise, and without this policy, it would be similar to opening a Pandora’s Box,” it said.