China will not sit back if Hong Kong situation gets 'uncontrollable': Beijing's UK envoy

China will not sit back if Hong Kong situation gets 'uncontrollable': Beijing's UK envoy

A protester attempts to leave the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) during clashes
A protester attempts to leave the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) during clashes with police in Hong Kong, China, Nov 18, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

LONDON: China will not simply sit back and watch if months of protests in Hong Kong develop into an "uncontrollable" situation, the country's ambassador to Britain said Monday (Nov 18).

"I think the Hong Kong government is trying very hard to put the situation under control," Liu Xiaoming told a London press conference, as fresh violence erupts after months of protests.

"But if the situation becomes uncontrollable, the central government would certainly not sit on our hands and watch. We have enough resolution and power to end the unrest."

Hong Kong protests Nov 18
A student tries to extinguish a fire at the entrance of Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on Nov 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Ye Aung Thu)

His comments come after a brief and rare deployment of Chinese troops in Hong Kong over the weekend to clean up streets.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army has a barracks in an upper-class district of Hong Kong.

Asked about a possible intervention, the envoy said: "They are there to show Chinese sovereignty and they are there for defence purposes."

Liu also warned against "external interference" in internal Chinese affairs, singling out Britain and the United States.

Protesters sit in the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Protesters sit in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, Nov 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

"Some Western countries have publicly supported extreme violent offenders, the US House of Representatives adopted the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to blatantly interfere in Hong Kong affairs, which are China's internal affairs," Liu said.

"The British government and the foreign affairs committee of the House of Commons published China-related reports making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong. What is worse certain British politicians even planned to present (an) award to a chief propagandist for Hong Kong independence."

A protester bleeds from his head after he was detained by police
A protester bleeds from his head after he was detained by police near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Nov 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

Hong Kong police laid siege to a university on Monday, firing rubber bullets and tear gas to pin back anti-government protesters armed with petrol bombs and other weapons and stop them from fleeing amid fears of a bloody crackdown.

READ: Hong Kong protesters remain defiant amid PolyU campus standoff with police

READ: Hong Kong protests: Security tight at PolyU with hundreds of protesters trapped on campus

Britain said it was seriously concerned by the violence on both sides at Hong Kong's universities and called for safe passage and medical assistance be given to those trapped at the campuses.

"We remain seriously concerned by the situation in Hong Kong and the escalation of violence between protesters and police. We continue to urge for calm and restraint on all sides and support the right to peaceful protest," a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

"It is vital that those who are injured are able to receive appropriate medical treatment, and that safe passage is made available for all those who wish to leave the area," Britain's Foreign Office said.

Police set up barricades to stop protesters from escaping
Police set up barricades to stop protesters from leaving the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, Nov 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

Police detain protesters near PolyU
Police detain protesters near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Nov 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

It called for an end to the violence, "and for all sides to engage in meaningful political dialogue ahead of the District Council elections on Sunday".

Liu Xiaoming accused the protesters of trying to destabilise and paralyse Hong Kong to "seize power".

"Hong Kong citizens live under black terror created by violent extremism with their life and property under severe threat," he said.

Police detain a protester during an attempt to escape
Police detain a protester during an attempt to escape the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, Nov 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

People are detained by police near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University
People are detained by police near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Nov 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Dale de la Rey)

Hong Kong's economy has slumped into technical recession because of the months of protests, denting its international image as a place to do business, he said.

"The once 'Oriental pearl' is turning into the 'Oriental scar'. Hong Kong, the 'fragrant harbour', is sliding into 'an abyss of chaos'.

"The future of Hong Kong, if such a situation continues, would be unimaginably dreadful."

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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Source: Reuters/AFP/ga

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