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China warns Hong Kong protesters not to 'play with fire'

Iran Press TV

Tue Aug 6, 2019 02:06PM

China has sternly warned protesters in Hong Kong not to "play with fire" or mistake Beijing's restraint for weakness, saying "dirty forces" are behind the weeks-long unrest plaguing the international financial hub.

"I would like to warn all of the criminals: don't ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness," said the Chinese government's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in a statement issued during a briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.

For the past nearly two months, Hong Kong has been the scene of protests over an extradition bill, which would have allowed suspects to be tried in mainland courts.

While the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese region has effectively backed away from the bill, protests have persisted, with individuals sometimes resorting to violence and vandalizing government buildings.

Protesters are demanding the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam and a permanent withdrawal of the controversial bill.

Beijing, which has sovereignty over the city, has already warned that it is ready to quell the "intolerable" unrest if requested.

In the Tuesday document, the Chinese government said that anti-China forces were the "behind-the-scenes masterminds" who had "openly and brazenly emboldened" the demonstrators.

"We would like to make clear to the very small group of unscrupulous and violent criminals and the dirty forces behind them: those who play with fire will perish by it," the office said, stressing, "At the end of the day, they will eventually be punished."

Earlier in the day, Beijing had warned US officials against "colluding" with anti-government protesters.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry's commissioner in Hong Kong, Yang Guang, emphasized that the financial hub belonged to China and that Beijing would respond strongly to any moves challenging its sovereignty over the city.

He was reacting to a statement issued by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in support of what she referred to as "courageous pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong."

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy, including a separate and independent legal system.

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