China’s central government warned Hong Kong protesters today that they should not underestimate “the immense strength of the central government”. At a media briefing in Beijing, Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, also said “those who play with fire will perish by it”.

The comments represent some of the strongest-worded warnings from China’s central government yet over protests in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong, which has been plunged into chaos by weeks of clashes. “When things spiral out of control, who will be the victims and who will benefit from such a situation?” Yang said.

When asked about the possibility of Chinese troops in Hong Kong being deployed, Yang said that the People’s Liberation Army is a strong force and will defend every part of its territory. He added, however, that Hong Kong authorities were capable of bringing the situation under control.

Asked about Chief Executive, Carrie Lam’s refusal to resign, the HKMAO spokesman says: “We resolutely support Carrie Lam as the chief executive, and the opposition’s wishes of overthrowing Carrie Lam will not be fulfilled.”

In a related development, three masked young people from the ongoing anti-government movement held a press conference in Hong Kong today, demanding democracy, liberty and equality and condemn the city’s pro-Beijing leaders.

Dressed in the movement’s signature yellow construction helmets and hiding their identities with face masks, the two young men and one woman billed their gathering as a civilian press conference “by the people, for the people”. “We call on the government to return the power back to the people and to address the demands of Hong Kong citizens,” they said as they read out their statements in both English and Cantonese.

Hong Kong has been wracked by two months of protests and clashes between police and increasingly hardcore demonstrators.


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