Fears are growing in Hong Kong that Beijing could send in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to quell unrest following weeks of anti-government protests in the city. China on Monday escalated its condemnation of protesters in Hong Kong, saying they had gone “entirely beyond the scope of peaceful demonstrations”. In the first press conference by the Beijing office that oversees Hong Kong since Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997, officials attacked “evil and criminal acts committed by radical elements” in the protests.
Residents of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory began protesting in early June for the government to withdraw an extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to stand trial in mainland China, where critics say their legal rights would be threatened. The territory has seen eight consecutive weekends of anti-government and pro-democracy demonstrations. Some have been marred by violent clashes between protesters and the police.