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.


Patten says China pursuing ‘Orwellian’ agenda in Hong Kong

Updated 16 min 11 sec ago

Patten says China pursuing ‘Orwellian’ agenda in Hong Kong

  • Chris Patten defended London’s announcement that it would grant residency and a path to citizenship for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents
  • China shocked many of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people when it announced earlier this month that it will enact a national security law for the city

BEIJING: The last British governor of Hong Kong criticized the Chinese government on Friday over proposed national security legislation, calling it part of an “Orwellian” drive to eliminate opposition in violation of the agreement on handing the territory over to Beijing.
Chris Patten defended London’s announcement that it would grant residency and a path to citizenship for nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents if Beijing goes through with passage of the legislation.
The law is seen as potentially imposing severe restrictions on freedom of speech and opposition political activity in the former British colony that was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997. China has denounced the offer of citizenship as a violation of its sovereignty.
“If they’ve broken the (Sino-British) Joint Declaration, if they’ve thrown it overboard, how can they then use the joint declaration as though it stops us doing something that’s a sovereign right of ours?” said Patten, now chancellor of the University of Oxford, in an online talk with reporters.
The declaration is a bilateral treaty signed as part of the handover process. China has essentially declared it null and void, while Britain says Beijing is reneging on its commitments made in the document that was supposed to be remain in effect until 2047.
China shocked many of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people when it announced earlier this month that it will enact a national security law for the city, which was promised a high level of autonomy outside of foreign and defense affairs.
An earlier push to pass security legislation was shelved after massive Hong Kong street protests against it in 2003. However, Beijing appeared to lose patience after months of sometimes violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year that China said was an attempt to split the territory off from the rest of the country.
Patten said the security legislation is unnecessary because Hong Kong’s legal code already includes provisions to combat terrorism, financial crimes and other threats to security.
“What Beijing wants is something which deals with those rather worrying Orwellian crimes like sedition, whatever that may be,” Patten said.
China may also be seeking grounds to disqualify opposition candidates from running in September’s election for the local legislature by accusing them of being disloyal, he said.
Beijing has ignored promises that Hong Kong could democratize of its own accord after the handover, Patten said. The US should unite with other democratic countries to oppose underhanded tactics by Beijing, he said.
“It’s the Chinese Communist Party which attacks us, which hectors, which bullies, which tells companies which have roots in our countries, that unless they do what China wants, they won’t get any business in China,” Patten said. “That’s the way the Mafia behave, and the rest of the world shouldn’t put up with it, because if we do, liberal democracies are going to be screwed.”