Aug. 1 (UPI) -- China's military chief in Hong Kong condemned ongoing protests on the island, stating in his first public comments on the months of unrest that they threaten the life and safety of the people.
Chen Daoxiang, commander of the People's Liberation Army, Hong Kong garrison, said Wednesday the protests that have rocked the island over the last two months have damaged its prosperity, stability and the rule of law and social order.
"The incidents have seriously threatened the life and safety of Hong Kong citizens, and violated the bottom line of 'one country, two systems'," he said. "This should not be tolerated and we express our strong condemnation."
Hong Kong, a former British colony, has functioned under this special one country, two systems model since it was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
However, protests erupted on the island in June against a controversial extradition bill that would allow for specific refugees from Chinese law to be returned to the mainland to face Beijing courts as opponents see it as a whittling away of the freedoms Hong Kong has under the one country, two systems model.
The protests have since evolved into a wider pro-democracy movement following reports of police brutality.
"We resolutely support the action to maintain Hong Kong's rule of law by the people who love the nation and the city, and we are determined to protect national sovereignty, security, stability and the prosperity of Hong Kong," he said.
Chen's comments were made during a reception celebrating the 92nd anniversary of the PLA, during which a video was shown that displayed its wide-ranging capabilities.
In one scene, the military conducts anti-riot drills with water cannons, tanks and coordinated troops, one of whom yells in Cantonese "All consequences are at your own risk."
Handcuffed citizens are then seen hauled away.
Chen's remarks follow China having denied reports that troops amassed near Hong Kong are signs of a plan to intervene in the protests.
It also came a day after 44 protesters were charged with rioting for the first time since the protests began.