China defends Hong Kong police, blames Western forces

Yang Guang of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council speaks during a news conference in Beijing, China July 29, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 29 July 2019

China defends Hong Kong police, blames Western forces

  • The protests in Hong Kong began in early June as a call to withdraw an extradition bill

BEIJING: China blamed Western forces and defended police conduct in remarks Monday about Hong Kong after the city endured another weekend of violent clashes between protesters and police.
Yang Guang, spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said at a news briefing that some "irresponsible people" in the West have applied "strange logic" that prompted them to be sympathetic and tolerant to "violent crimes" while criticizing the police force's "due diligence."
"At the end of the day, their intention is to create trouble in Hong Kong, make Hong Kong a problem to China, in order to contain China's development," Yang said, without mentioning any specific individuals or countries.
He added that such attempts will come to nothing because Beijing will tolerate no outside interference in the affairs of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
The protests in Hong Kong began in early June as a call to withdraw an extradition bill that would have allowed people in the former British colony to be sent to stand trial in mainland China, where critics say their legal rights would be threatened. Since the government indefinitely suspended the legislation, demonstrators have broadened their scope to demand greater democracy and government accountability.
Police on Sunday repeatedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets to drive back protesters blocking Hong Kong streets with road signs and umbrellas.
The protesters have demanded an independent inquiry into police conduct at the protests, which they say has been abusive.
At least one woman was knocked down when police used rods Saturday to disperse crowds in Hong Kong's Yuen Long area, where officers later charged into a train station swinging batons. Protesters were "holding iron poles, self-made shields and even removing fences from roads," police said in a statement that accused demonstrators of putting officers' lives in danger by surrounding an occupied police vehicle.
Yang said the Chinese government firmly supports the police in Hong Kong.
"We understand the huge pressure facing the Hong Kong police and their families," he said, "and would like to salute the Hong Kong police who have been fearlessly sticking to their posts and fulfilling their duties against all odds."
Hong Kong's government and police force have said the protests have placed considerable strain on their officers, who are dispatched in large numbers for the protests, which occur at least once a week and generally go late into the night despite repeated appeals to disband. Hong Kong authorities said these pressures made it difficult for police to act immediately when a band of white-clad assailants beat people inside the Yuen Long train station on July 21.
Protesters said the slow police response to that attack indicated that officers were colluding with the attackers — an allegation that authorities have refuted. Last Monday, police arrested six men in connection with the attack, including some linked to triad gangs.
Pro-Beijing lawmakers in Hong Kong said the "general wishes" of the city's residents are for the violence to stop immediately.
"Regardless of your stance, I think all this violence should not continue because it brings no benefit to any person," said legislator Starry Lee.
Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy lawmaker, said she fears the Chinese government's statements will further inflame demonstrators.
"I'm so worried that what happened in Beijing this afternoon will actually help fan the fire of what's already been a tsunami of protests in Hong Kong," Mo said, noting that the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office appeared to fully support the police and Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam.


Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.

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