China will not 'sit on its hands' over Hong Kong unrest, Chinese ambassador to Britain says

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Police fire tear gas to clear pro-Democracy protesters during a demonstration on Hungry Ghost Festival day in the Sham Shui Po district - Getty Images AsiaPac

Police fire tear gas to clear pro-Democracy protesters during a demonstration on Hungry Ghost Festival day in the Sham Shui Po district - Getty Images AsiaPac

Police fire tear gas to clear pro-Democracy protesters during a demonstration on Hungry Ghost Festival day in the Sham Shui Po district – Getty Images AsiaPac

China’s ambassador to the UK said Thursday the Beijing government will not “sit on its hands” if the situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate after more than two months of near-daily street protests.

Liu Xiaoming said extremists masquerading as pro-democracy activists are dragging Hong Kong “down a dangerous road.”

He told a news conference in London that if unrest becomes “uncontrollable . the central government would not sit on its hands and watch.”

“We have enough solutions and enough power within the limit of the Basic Law to quell any unrest swiftly,” he said, referring to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution adopted after the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997. “We hope this will end in an orderly way. In the meantime we are fully prepared for the worst.”

It came after Donald Trump backed Xi Jinping to resolve the unrest in Hong Kong “quickly and humanely”, floating the possibility of meeting his Chinese counterpart personally to discuss the issue.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The US president, who has come under fire at home for&nbsp;his hands-off approach to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong,&nbsp;called Mr Xi a "great leader".” data-reactid=”22″>The US president, who has come under fire at home for his hands-off approach to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, called Mr Xi a “great leader”.

Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK, speaks during a news conference at the Chinese Embassy - Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK, speaks during a news conference at the Chinese Embassy - Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

<figcaption class="C($c-fuji-grey-h) Fz(13px) Py(5px) Lh(1.5)" title="Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, speaks during a news conference at the Chinese Embassy Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg ” data-reactid=”30″>

Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, speaks during a news conference at the Chinese Embassy Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

By nightfall, police and protesters were again facing off on the streets, with riot officers shooting tear gas almost immediately as their response to demonstrators toughens.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Ten weeks of increasingly violent confrontation between police and protesters have plunged&nbsp;Hong&nbsp;Kong&nbsp;into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.” data-reactid=”35″>Ten weeks of increasingly violent confrontation between police and protesters have plunged Hong Kong into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

“I know President Xi of China very well. He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people,” the US president tweeted at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

“He is also a good man in a ‘tough business.’ I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?”

John Bolton, Mr Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, said: “The Chinese have to look very carefully at the steps they take because people in America remember Tiananmen Square.”

Donald Trump says Xi Jinping is a 'great leader' - Credit: Barcroft Media

Donald Trump says Xi Jinping is a 'great leader' - Credit: Barcroft Media

<figcaption class="C($c-fuji-grey-h) Fz(13px) Py(5px) Lh(1.5)" title="Donald Trump says Xi Jinping is a ‘great leader’ Credit: Barcroft Media ” data-reactid=”46″>

Donald Trump says Xi Jinping is a ‘great leader’ Credit: Barcroft Media

He told Voice of America’s Greta Van Susteren: “They remember the picture of the man standing in front of the line of tanks.

“They remember the Statue of Liberty, they remember the voices of the Chinese people asking for freedom and democracy, and they remember the repression of the Chinese government in 1989.”

He added: “It would be a big mistake to create a new memory like that in Hong Kong.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="A US&nbsp;State Department spokeswoman said earlier on Wednesday that the United States was "deeply concerned" about Chinese paramilitary movement along the&nbsp;Hong&nbsp;Kong&nbsp;border.” data-reactid=”55″>A US State Department spokeswoman said earlier on Wednesday that the United States was “deeply concerned” about Chinese paramilitary movement along the Hong Kong border.

Thousands of Chinese military personnel paraded at a sports stadium in a city across the border from Hong Kong on Thursday, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Armoured vehicles were also inside the stadium in Shenzhen, with the drill taking place as fears rise that China may intervene to end 10 weeks of unrest in Hong Kong.

The State Department’s expression of concern came after senior US lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties called on Mr Trump to take a tougher line with China as worries grew over a possible Chinese intervention.

Mr Trump, who has been seeking a major deal to correct trade imbalances with China, has faced criticism from Congress and elsewhere for not taking a stronger public line on Hong Kong and for his characterisation of the protests earlier this month as “riots” that were a matter for China to deal with. 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Flights resumed on Wednesday amid heightened security at&nbsp;Hong&nbsp;Kong&nbsp;airport, one of the world’s busiest. This followed two days of disruptions sparked by protesters swarming the airport, where, late on Tuesday, they detained two men they suspected opposed them.” data-reactid=”60″>Flights resumed on Wednesday amid heightened security at Hong Kong airport, one of the world’s busiest. This followed two days of disruptions sparked by protesters swarming the airport, where, late on Tuesday, they detained two men they suspected opposed them.

A protester attempts to kick a tear gas canister during a demonstration on Hungry Ghost Festival day in Sham Shui Po district  - Credit: Getty

A protester attempts to kick a tear gas canister during a demonstration on Hungry Ghost Festival day in Sham Shui Po district  - Credit: Getty

<figcaption class="C($c-fuji-grey-h) Fz(13px) Py(5px) Lh(1.5)" title="A protester attempts to kick a tear gas canister during a demonstration on Hungry Ghost Festival day in Sham Shui Po district  Credit: Getty ” data-reactid=”68″>

A protester attempts to kick a tear gas canister during a demonstration on Hungry Ghost Festival day in Sham Shui Po district  Credit: Getty

China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing called the behaviour at the airport no different to terrorism and said it must be severely punished.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Hong Kong protesters yesterday apologised for "over-reacting" during heated clashes at the city’s airport where suspected Chinese spies were detained and beaten by some demonstrators.” data-reactid=”73″>Hong Kong protesters yesterday apologised for “over-reacting” during heated clashes at the city’s airport where suspected Chinese spies were detained and beaten by some demonstrators.

“We’re deeply sorry about what happened yesterday,” read a banner held up by a group of a few dozen demonstrators in the airport arrivals hall in the morning.

“We were desperate and we made imperfect decisions. Please accept our apologies,” the banner said.

China on Wednesday denied requests for two US Navy ships to visit Hong Kong, the Pacific Fleet said on Tuesday.

The USS Green Bay, an amphibious dock landing ship, was to stop in Hong Kong on Saturday, while the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie planned a port call there next month.

Early this month, Beijing demanded that US diplomats based in Hong Kong “stop interfering” in the city’s affairs, after reports that they met with pro-democracy activists.

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