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HK protests are ‘violence pure and simple’: Chinese minister

PARIS: China's Foreign Minister denounced months of pro-democracy unrest in Hong Kong as "violence pure and simple", accusing foreign forces and the international media of fuelling the political crisis.

The comments, in an exclusive interview with AFP, were the most direct condemnation from a top Chinese official of the protests that erupted five months ago and have seen millions of people take to the streets calling for greater democracy.

"What is happening in Hong Kong today are in no way peaceful protests," Mr Wang Yi said during the interview with AFP during a trip to Paris on Monday.

"It is violence pure and simple. These are unacceptable acts in any country," he added, accusing the protesters of attacking police, members of the public and paralysing transport.

Hong Kong has been riven by seething protests for the past 20 weeks, with violence spiralling on both sides of the ideological divide.

EXTERNAL FORCES

This summer's protests were initially sparked by opposition to a now-scrapped proposal to allow extraditions of criminal suspects to China.

They quickly snowballed into a wider anti-government movement after Beijing and local leaders in Hong Kong took a hard line.

China has regularly accused "external forces" of fuelling unrest in Hong Kong, often citing comments by Western politicians supportive of the protests.

In his interview, Mr Wang again alleged foreigners were involved.

He said: "There are foreign forces that are encouraging this sort of violence in the streets with the aim of destabilising Hong Kong, sowing chaos... to wipe out the historic progress made since the 'one country, two systems' policy was applied."

"Such action will never succeed," he added, insisting that the Hong Kong government would be able to re-establish "social order and respect for the rule of law". - AFP

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