Beijing pins Hong Kong violence on ‘radical separatists’

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Feb 15, 2016 00:34 IST
In this Tuesday, February 9, 2016 photo, police officers walk past a blazing fire set by protestors in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong. (AP)

Radical separatists showing elements of terror triggered the riot in Hong Kong last week, China’s top official in the city said on Sunday, referring to the worst street protests in the financial hub since the 2014 pro-democracy protests.

Zhang Xiaoming, China’s top official in the city, which is formally a semi-autonomous part of the mainland, said: “We strongly condemn those radical separatists whose behaviors got more and more violent and even showed terror tendencies”.

Violence – termed as “fishball revolution” — erupted in the city on the night of February 9 when officials attempted to remove illegal hawkers during the Chinese new year holidays.

“About 300 rioters participated in the riot in early hours on February 9 at Mong Kok, one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping areas following official attempts to remove illegal hawkers from the busy commercial neighbourhood during Lunar New Year celebrations,” the official version of the event said.

Police, according to local reports, fired in the air to disperse the crowd as protesters hurled bricks at them; rubbish heaps were set on fire.

According to an AFP report, at least 100 people including protesters and police personnel were injured. The sequence of events might point to a spontaneous reaction but according Zhang, the violence was premeditated. Zhang, tellingly, made the remarks at a function to convey greetings to HK residents for the new Chinese Lunar Year.

“We strongly condemn those remarks and sophistries that agitate for violence and confuse right and wrong, and even attempt to shift the blame onto other people,” Zhang added.

“Zhang said he believed Hong Kong residents hope for peace, stability and prosperity in Hong Kong, and that all share a consensus that Hong Kong should not be overrun by violence, and therefore the Hong Kong residents would not tolerate a tiny minority radicals to destroy Hong Kong’s most valuable environment of rule of law,” the report added.

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