China says ‘political virus’ of violent protests must be removed in Hong Kong

Protesters use a slingshot to hurl bricks at police, in the market town of Tsuen Wan, located in Hong Kong, China, on August 25, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)
China says violent protests in Hong Kong are a “political virus” that must be removed in order to restore calm to the territory.

“The scorched-earth action of the black-clad violent protesters is a political virus in Hong Kong society,” China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office warned in a strongly-worded statement on Wednesday.

It said there were many factors leading to Hong Kong’s economic decline; however, the main preventable issue was the violent anti-government protests.

“Hong Kong’s biggest trouble comes from within, that is the violent forces openly calling for and engaging in [the] scorched-earth tactics,” it said. “As long as the protesters are not removed, Hong Kong will never be calm.”

The Asian financial hub was rocked in 2019 by months of massive anti-government protests over a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed suspected criminals to be sent from Hong Kong to mainland China for trial.

The protesters often heavily vandalized shops and public property and attacked citizens believed to be pro-government.
However, since the government imposed a ban on public meetings at the end of March to curb the coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong has been relatively calm.

There was only one instance of unrest when Hong Kong riot police dispersed a crowd of 300 protesters, some wearing black, late last month.

Due to the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, business activity was already declining.

More than 7,000 people have been taken into custody for their involvement in the protests since June last year, with many having been charged with rioting, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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.

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