Hong Kong police to take both 'hard' and 'soft' approaches against protests: Commissioner

Hong Kong police to take both 'hard' and 'soft' approaches against protests: Commissioner

hong kong police chief chris tang
Hong Kong police chief Tang Ping-keung speaks to media after meetings with Chinese officials in Beijing on Dec 7, 2019. (Photo: AFP/GREG BAKER)

BEIJING: The Hong Kong police will use both "hard" and "soft" approaches when dealing with protests, Hong Kong's police commissioner Chris Tang told reporters in Beijing on Saturday (Dec 7).

"We will use both the hard and soft approach. We will be stringent on illegal violent actions such as throwing of petrol bombs, acid," Tang told reporters in Beijing.

"For other issues, if possible, we will adopt a more flexible approach."

Police have given a rare green light to the demonstration planned Sunday by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) group, which organised largely peaceful million-strong marches in June.

READ: A city divided: Hong Kong’s 6 months of tumultuous protests

Tang said the police will take a "humanistic" approach to minor incidents but warned of resolute measures against more violent actions and added that he hopes the march on Sunday will be peaceful.

What started as demonstrations against a now-withdrawn Bill allowing extradition to mainland China has morphed into calls for greater democratic freedoms and sometimes violent protests.

The international financial hub has enjoyed relative calm in the weeks since the elections.

Protesters have set out five demands, including universal suffrage and an investigation into alleged police brutality.

Beijing has condemned the unrest and blamed foreign governments, including the United States and former colonial power Britain of interfering in the country's internal affairs.

Tara Joseph, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, told Reuters on Saturday that she had been denied entry to the neighbouring Chinese-ruled territory of Macau.

Joseph, a US citizen, said she was detained by immigration authorities for around two hours as she made her way to the former Portuguese colony for the AmCham Macau Ball. Authorities did not give a reason for refusing her entry, she added.

Tang was appointed to his position in November. He was in Beijing for a "courtesy visit" to meet mainland officials, the Hong Kong police said in a short statement on Thursday.

EXPLORE: Voices of Hong Kong, an interactive special

He said he met with Zhang Xiaoming, the head of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and Zhao Kezhi, China's minister of public security.

FLYING FLAGS

Earlier on Saturday Tang observed a flag-raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square, according to a video footage carried by Hong Kong broadcaster Cable TV.

"I am very excited to see the country's flag fly and to feel the country's greatness," he told reporters. "I would like to thank... President Xi Jinping (for his) unwavering support of the Hong Kong police strictly enforcing the law."

In Hong Kong, several hundred pro-Beijing supporters waved Chinese flags and played mainland hymns to show support for the government and condemn violence.

"We saw all the damages, all the wreckages, all the barricades on the roads, created by those yellow (pro-democracy) groups, the rioters, and we just couldn't stand it anymore," said Virginia Cheung, 54, a retired civil servant.

Xu Enlai, a 72-year old retired construction worker who moved to Hong Kong from the mainland 45 years ago, also denounced violence.

"I think Hong Kong police are doing very well ... The police are safeguarding our society here," he said.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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Source: Reuters/aj

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