Beijing says it will not “sit on its hands” if the situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate. The statement from China’s ambassador to the UK comes after more than two months of near-daily street protests in the semi-autonomous territory triggered by an extradition bill.

Liu Xiaoming said on Thursday extremists were masquerading as anti-Beijing activists and were dragging Hong Kong “down a dangerous road”.

He told a news conference in London that the central government “would not sit on its hands and watch” if unrest becomes “uncontrollable”.

“We have enough solutions and enough power within the limit of the basic law to quell any unrest swiftly,” he said, referring to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution adopted after the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.

“We hope this will end in an orderly way. In the meantime, we are fully prepared for the worst,” he said.

Protests demanding greater rights and freedom from Beijing rule that began in early June have paralysed parts of the territory, including its international airport, and led to hundreds of arrests.

Liu would not go into detail about what measures Beijing might take or when the situation might be judged to be out of control. Beijing has not ruled out sending in troops, although most observers consider that unlikely.

He also told other countries to stop meddling.

“We cannot accept any interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs,” he said.

China has provided few concrete examples of alleged foreign meddling.

Flights have mostly resumed after being halted by mass demonstrations and spasms of violence at the airport on Monday and Tuesday.

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