China’s central government has backed a criminal probe into the ransacking of Hong Kong’s legislature, while state media demanded “zero tolerance” over the violence.
A tense calm had descended on the city early on Tuesday, hours after police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who had stormed the legislature in chaotic scenes to protest against an extradition bill in a direct challenge to Beijing.
Debris including umbrellas, hard hats and water bottles were the few signs left of the mayhem that had engulfed parts of the Chinese-ruled city overnight after protesters stormed the legislature.
“These serious illegal actions trample on the rule of law in Hong Kong, undermine Hong Kong’s social order and harm the fundamental interests of Hong Kong,” the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, said in a statement by a spokesperson.
“It is a blatant challenge to the ‘one country, two systems’ bottom line. We express our vehement condemnation against this,” the spokesperson said.
Under the terms of the 1997 handover between colonial power Britain to China, Hong Kong is to be governed under its own laws with special rights including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary until 2047.
The statement said Beijing strongly supports Hong Kong’s government and the police.