HONG KONG: China issued its "firm support" for Hong Kong's police on Tuesday (Nov 12), a day after a local officer shot a protester at close range and a man was doused with petrol as chaotic and violent clashes spread across the former British colony.
Protesters are angry about what they see as police brutality and meddling by Beijing in the freedoms guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" formula put in place when the territory returned to China in 1997.
Speaking at a regular news conference in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang defended the actions of the Hong Kong police officer involved in the shooting on Monday and urged officials in the US and the UK not to interfere in China's affairs.
"No matter which country you are in, seizing a police officer's gun, attacking a police officer who is on duty, threatening the life and safety of an on duty police officer, is certainly not allowed and will definitely be forcefully countered by the local police.
"I would like to ask officials in the US or the UK, if such a case were to occur in their countries how would their police deal with it?"
The United States on Monday had condemned "unjustified use of deadly force" in Hong Kong, and urged police and civilians alike to de-escalate the situation.
The Hong Kong Police Force also addressed the shooting incident on Tuesday as it described how the city's rule of law had reached "the brink of total collapse".
Senior superintendent of organised crime and triad bureau Li Kwai-wah said the officer in question had been confronted by a group of people.
"As we gathered the statement from the man who was injured (by gun shot), we found out that our colleague did not only face threat from one person, instead it was a group of people with organised plan attempting to steal the gun.
"In a situation like this, we believe our police is reacting according to the guideline, to protect themselves as well as the people around them,” he said.
Regarding the burning of a man in Ma On Shan on Monday, senior superintendent of police public relations Kong Wing-Cheung said the incident was yet another example of rioters using “random and indiscriminate violence” against innocent people.
“The victim got into a dispute with rioters over (different) political wills and was then beaten up brutally. He suffered bloody head injury before being poured with flammable fluid and set on fire," Kong said.
He added that the victim was now in "critical condition" after suffering severe burns to his head and upper body. The case has been classified as attempted murder.
A flash mob of more than 1,000 Hong Kong protesters rallied in the city’s central business district for a second day on Tuesday, prompting the police to fire volleys of tear gas and arrest more than a dozen people.
Police also fired tear gas at City University in Kowloon Tong, beneath the Lion Rock, and at Chinese University on the other side of the mountain, where protesters threw petrol bombs and bricks at police.
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