China has issued yet another stern warning against weeks-long protests in Hong Kong, saying it will not sit idly by and watch as the unrest continues.
The Chinese media, however, brushed off concerns about a possible “repeat” of the deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown 30 years ago if Beijing moves to end the unrest in Hong Kong.
The warning was issued on Thursday night by the Chinese ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, who accused foreign forces of instigating violent protest rallies in Hong Kong.
He also dismissed speculations that Beijing may instigate a military crackdown in the city, saying the government has “enough solutions and enough power to swiftly quell unrest” should it deem the situation “uncontrollable.”
The Chinese-ruled territory was first hit by protests ten weeks ago, when people took to the streets to protest a proposed bill which would have allowed suspects to be extradited and stand trial in mainland China.
While the proposed bill has been suspended, protests have continued and morphed over time into unruly riots.
Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city – a former British colony – was returned to China in 1997.
Earlier this week, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Yang Guang said the city had reached a “critical juncture” as rioters started showing signs of ‘terrorism.”
AFP released images on Thursday, showing thousands of Chinese military personnel waving red flags and parading at a sports stadium in the city of Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong.
Dozens of armored personnel carriers and supply trucks were also parked nearby.
Trump calls on Xi to sit with protesters
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he was “concerned” over a possible crackdown. He called on his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to talk with the protesters in Hong Kong.
He said that if Xi “sat down with the protesters… I’ll bet he’d work it out in 15 minutes.”
The US president also said that he would be speaking with Xi “soon.”
His National Security Advisor John Bolton commented on the situation, with a reference to the bloody crackdown in the Tiananmen Square three decades ago.
An official Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, reacted to the remarks in an editorial, saying the Chinese government is “much mature” to repeat such an incident if it moves to put an end to the unrest in Hong Kong.
“The incident in Hong Kong won’t be a repeat of the June 4th political incident in 1989,” it said.
“China is much stronger and more mature, and its ability to manage complex situations has been greatly enhanced,” the daily said.
Washington and Britain are both accused of interfering in Chinese internal affairs, since they have been openly endorsing the unrest.
Hong Kong police capable of handling crisis
Hong Kong police have also ruled out any military crackdown by Beijing, saying they are unaware of any such plan.
Three senior commanders said on Friday that local police have the resources to continue battling the unrest, even if violence escalates further.
“At the operational level we have considerable depth. I think we have the determination, the cohesiveness and the depth of resources to keep going,” said one senior commander.
Protesters accused police of using excessive force, but officers said they remained confident a “silent majority” of Hong Kong residents still supported them.
Police in several occasions had to fire tear gas to quell unrest. In an incident on Tuesday, when protesters occupied Hong Kong international airport, rioters attacked a police officer with batons, forcing him to draw his gun and point it at them.
They also attacked an ambulance crew who were trying to help a patient during the rallies at the airport.
Hong Kong’s Fire Services Department said the “radical acts of some protesters had seriously affected” ambulance services.