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China urges punishment of Hong Kong protesters for building breach

By Elizabeth Shim
China urges punishment of Hong Kong protesters for building breach
A Hong Kong police officer monitors protesters outside a government building on Monday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

July 2 (UPI) -- China says it supports the punishment of protesters who broke into the city's Legislative Council on Monday.

In a statement that indicated China's relationship with the semi-autonomous city had turned a corner, Beijing said it supports the punishment of activists who oppose the Hong Kong-China extradition bill, Beijing's state-owned news agency Xinhua reported.

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The Liaison Office of the Chinese central government in Hong Kong said they strongly condemned the protesters' actions at the city government building.

"We are shocked and angry about the violent incident that took place at the legislative building on July 1," Beijing's liaison office said. "We firmly support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in tracking down the violations, and applying punishment."

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In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed "deep regret" following the incident.

"The central government strongly supports the Hong Kong government and police deal with the case under the law," Geng said.

The spokesman added Hong Kong is a special administration region in China, and is "part of China's internal affairs."

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"We are opposed to [outside] interference in Hong Kong affairs, and we express strong grievance."

Hong Kong maintains independent economic and administrative systems under the constitutional principle of "One country, two systems," but the policy expires in 2047.

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Analysts have told UPI the current battle over the extradition bill is a critical test of the political fate of Hong Kong.

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China is taking a more hands-on approach to Hong Kong at a time when activists are defending the events of July 1.

Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong student activist who led the Umbrella Movement in 2014, said on Twitter the protesters stormed the building because Chief Executive Carrie Lam had not retracted the bill, despite overwhelming opposition.

"The protesters...wanted to make the [Chinese] regime hear Hong Kongers' voice, and they had no other option," Wong tweeted on Tuesday.

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