Beijing’s top office in Hong Kong backs city’s gov’t, condemning recent protests at rare press conference

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HONG KONG – China’s top office for handling Hong Kong affairs held a press conference in Beijing on Monday to express “its stance and views on Hong Kong’s current situation.”It was the first time that the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office held a press briefing on the city since it was established in 1997.The office’s spokesperson Yang Guang condemned the actions of anti-extradition law protesters over recent weeks, saying that they “exceeded the boundaries of acceptable protest.”

After a recap of recent protest events, Yang made three suggestions: he called on all sectors of Hong Kong society to “clearly oppose violence”, “strongly uphold the rule of law” and to move out of political gridlock to focus on development and livelihood issues instead.

“We especially understand and sympathise with the tremendous pressure felt by the police and their families,” Yang added, saying China fully support police and law enforcement.

He claimed that “some people and media with ulterior motives” took advantage of the public’s lack of familiarity with China’s legal system, and led them to oppose the extradition bill proposed by the government.

“If Hong Kong continues to be in chaos, it will have a cost upon society,” he said.

When asked about the idea of civil disobedience, Yang dismissed the idea: “Violence is violence, breaking the law is breaking the law.”

Answering questions from the press, spokesperson Xu Luying said the central government “fully affirms” the work done by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and will continue to support her and her administration to govern Hong Kong according to law: “We saw that the administration has reflected on itself” regarding the extradition bill affair, she added.

The extraditin bill would allow the city to handle case-by-case fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with no prior arrangments, including China. Critics have said residents are at risk of extradition to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections.

Large-scale protests since June have since morphed into wider displays of dissent over dwindling freedoms, democracy, alleged police brutality and other community grievances. On July 9, Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared the bill “dead,” but did not enact any mechanism to withdraw it or agree to step down.