China’s president Xi Jinping issued his most direct warning yet to the city, saying it needed to urgently “end violence and restore order”.
President Xi, speaking at a summit in Brazil on Thursday, said “persistent radical and violent crimes” had “seriously trampled on the rule of law and social order” of Hong Kong, the state news agency Xinhua reported.
He pledged Beijing’s support for Hong Kong’s police, its judiciary in punishing “violent criminals”, and its chief executive, Carrie Lam. “Stopping the violence and restoring order is Hong Kong’s most urgent task at present,” he said.
As he delivered his remarks, demonstrators in Hong Kong were burning a Chinese flag, blocking roads and throwing petrol bombs at riot police, who responded with teargas, on a fourth consecutive weekday of unrest.
A 70-year-old cleaner who is thought to have been hit by a brick during a clash between protesters and pro-Beijing residents is the second man to have died during in the ongoing mass protest in Hong Kong.
The old man’s death came less than a week after a student protester who had fallen from a building died from his injuries. Since then, the level of violence at the protests that began five months ago has reached new heights.
On Monday police shot a 21-year-old student in the stomach at close range and a 57-year old man was set on fire while arguing with demonstrators. A 15-year-old boy is in a critical condition in hospital after he was hit on the head with a teargas canister on Wednesday.
Student protesters barricaded themselves inside universities, in some cases building makeshift walls across roads and stockpiling bows and arrows, molotov cocktails, catapults and other homemade weapons.
Students from Europe, mainland China and Taiwan were leaving the city as several universities cancelled classes for the rest of the semester. The education bureau suspended all classes in primary and secondary schools from Friday to Sunday.
Police described the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a “weapons factory and an arsenal”. Ch Supt Tse Chun-chung told a briefing that the campus protests were “another step closer to terrorism”,
On Monday Lam described the protesters as “enemies of the public”. Hong Kong police have been heard referring to protesters as “cockroaches”, while Beijing and Chinese state media has blamed the protesters for wreaking “chaos”. That word that was also used by official press to denigrate the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square. (Source: The Guardian)