World

China says it will quell Hong Kong protests if they get worse

Chinese Ambassador to UK claims foreign forces are fomenting violent protests

LONDON: China will use its power to quell Hong Kong protests if the situation deteriorates further after some protesters have shown "signs of terrorism", China's Ambassador to Britain said yesterday.

"The central government will not sit on its hands and watch," Ambassador Liu Xiaoming told reporters. "We have enough solutions and enough power within the limits of (the) Basic Law to quell any unrest swiftly.

"Their moves are severe and violent offences and already show signs of terrorism.

"The central government of China will never allow a few violent offenders to drag Hong Kong down a dangerous road, down a dangerous abyss."

He accused unidentified foreign forces of fomenting violent protests in Hong Kong, warning them that their "conniving" efforts had been noticed and they would end up damaging themselves.

Mr Liu also accused the Western media of being unbalanced in their reporting and of confusing right and wrong.

Yesterday, the city braced for more demonstrations through the weekend, with the crisis escalating after pro-democracy protests forced the cancellation of nearly 1,000 flights this week and world leaders urging calm.

Several protests were planned across Hong Kong from yesterday, including a teachers' rally and one organised by animal lovers upset that their pets were being tear-gassed.

The Civil Human Rights Front, which organised million-strong marches in June, set another protest for Sunday.

Protesters are pushing for the authorities to listen to their requests, which include the complete withdrawal of a now-suspended extradition Bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent for trial in Chinese courts.

US President Donald Trump tied a trade agreement with China to the protests being resolved "humanely", suggesting he was willing to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"I have zero doubt if President Xi (Jinping) wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?"he tweeted.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called on the Hong Kong authorities to renew talks with protesters to find a peaceful solution. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged China to handle the protests with tact.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong also urged all parties to engage in constructive talks to restore the city's standing as an international business hub.

Hong Kong's Airport Authority said normal flight operations would resume but heightened security would remain at the airport. It said on Wednesday that an application for protests to be held in the terminal must be made in advance with a Letter of No Objection from police.

Research firm Capital Economics said the protests could push Hong Kong into a recession, with a growing risk of "an even worse outcome if a further escalation triggers capital flight". Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government unveiled a HK$19.1 billion (S$3.4 billion) package to support a slowing economy. - REUTERS

WORLD