Govt denounces HK protests

By Cathy Wong Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-29 0:33:09

Police show restraint in handling demonstrators

Police clash with protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on Sunday. Photo: AFP

The central government Sunday condemned the illegal pro-democracy movement Occupy Central for undermining social stability in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) in response to the surprise launch of the protest that has brought chaos to the city's business district.

"The central government firmly opposes all kinds of illegal behavior in Hong Kong that undermines social order and stability. It is fully confident that the Hong Kong government can handle the situation in accordance with the law and resolutely supports such handling," a spokesperson for the State Council's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said Sunday afternoon.

The central government's liaison office in Hong Kong issued a similar statement Sunday night, slamming the Occupy campaign for blocking traffic and disturbing social order, stressing that the recent reform framework released by the top legislature is not to be challenged.

At a press conference Sunday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying  also urged the public to engage in rational discussion on political reform, and said the SAR government is resolute in opposing unlawful actions by Occupy Central. "The police shall continue to handle the situation in accordance with the law," he said.

Protesters on Sunday evening spilled out onto some of Hong Kong's busiest streets in the Central and Admiralty districts, paralyzing traffic.

Violent clashes have injured six police officers, according to Hong Kong police.

According to Radio Television Hong Kong, the city's Hospital Authority said as of 9:45 pm Sunday, 26 people had been hospitalized due to the clashes, without identifying them.

Police said they were forced to escalate their action after several warnings and used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse activists intent on forcing their way past police cordons.

Stanley Chan Wing-leung, a Hong Kong-based criminal defense lawyer and former senior inspector of police, believes the police have been restrained in their handling of protesters.

"The police have to prevent further chaos, especially when Monday will be a working day. Hence the situation has left them with no choice but to maintain social order by driving off the protesters," Chan told the Global Times.

Chan believes despite the sudden launch of the protest, the Hong Kong police began preparing for this scenario long ago and have arranged enough manpower to deal with the protests.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) in August adopted a legal framework for ways to elect Hong Kong's top leader by universal suffrage in 2017.

Some Hong Kong pro-democracy politicians and activists have expressed opposition to the plan for the nomination threshold as they fear it may bar them from running. They threatened to seal off the heart of Hong Kong's financial district as they push their demands for a "genuine" democracy.

The Occupy Central protest was widely expected to begin on Wednesday, the 65th National Day, following a wave of class boycotts organized by university and secondary school students since September 22.

Over 60 people were arrested on Friday night at the student-led rally in support of the class boycotts after hundreds of protesters broke into a restricted area next to the government headquarters.

Riding on the week-long school strikes and protests, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, co-founder of the Occupy Central movement, made an earlier-than-expected announcement at a student-led rally outside the government headquarters in Tamar in the early hours of Sunday morning, kicking off the movement.

While some students supported the early launch, others said Occupy Central had hijacked their protest.

"We were summoned by the student leaders but the Occupy Central organizers have hijacked our protest. I think they are just putting on a show," said a student surnamed Lam at the City University of Hong Kong, reported i-Cable TV network.

Another student protester from the Chinese University of Hong Kong surnamed Ho said on the same report that she feared arrest for participating in the Occupy movement which may leave her with a criminal record.

Late on Sunday, the Hong Kong Federation of Students called on students to retreat from protests in the heart of the city, reported AFP.

"The early launch was a carefully planned tactic by the Occupy Central organizers. They have manipulated and incited innocent students to break into government headquarters," Stanley Ng Chau-pei, spokesperson of an anti-Occupy Central group, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy, told the Global Times.

Ng said the alliance has recently received complaints from parents that their children have been deceived by the Occupy campaign, which uses their passion and lack of knowledge of the city's political reality.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a Hong Kong legislator, said extreme measures will produce no positive effect but will only affect the livelihood of Hong Kong society.

"They [the activists] won't be able to change the NPC's decisions by street battles. They must take part in constructive discussions with the government," Ip told the Global Times on Sunday.

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