Chinese Officials Warn Protesters Not to Challenge Hong Kong Status Quo

Above Demonstrators gathering to block the Cross Harbour Tunnel in Hong Kong's Hung Hom district yesterday. Key roads were blocked cutting major arteries linking Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula

Hong Kong lawyers held a silent march in support of anti-government protesters on Wednesday, highlighting the movement's enduring broad appeal despite increasingly ominous warnings from Beijing.

In a strong warning aimed at the more violent "criminals" behind the worst of the unrest, Yang said: "Don't ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness".

Over the past 48 hours, three successive developments have exacerbated the situation in Hong Kong, which has been in the grips of massive public protests since June, when the administration sought to introduce a law that would have allowed the city-state to extradite suspected criminals to China.

At a briefing in Beijing, Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said the "radical protests [.] have severely impacted Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, pushing it into a unsafe abyss".

Yang singled out "brazen, violent and criminal actors" and the "meddling hands behind the scenes" as the focus law enforcement efforts, saying "as for their punishment, it's only a matter of time".

"We continue to allow these violent protesters to make use of the [extradition] bill to hide their ulterior motives", she said.

Police fired around 800 tear gas grenades during clashes with protesters on Monday, when a general strike saw multiple mass actions rage across the city.

Officers fire tear gas and rubber bullets after protesters ignore commands and throw objects in the ongoing backlash over a Chinese extradition bill.

Two months after a summer of rage began on Hong Kong's streets, pro-democracy protesters and the southern Chinese city's leaders are digging in for a long war of attrition.

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The political crisis in the city was sparked by now-suspended plans to allow extraditions to mainland China.

"Those ulterior motives are going to destroy Hong Kong".

Officials tried to color Monday's protesters as rioters trying to destabilize society, and violators of China's rule over the territory.

Protesters chanted and cheered as they beamed the lasers across the sky and on buildings, demonstrating the pointers were "not a weapon" and can not set paper alight, as police have claimed.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under the framework of "one country, two systems", which promised the city certain democratic freedoms not afforded to the mainland. The spokesperson also vowed to punish all Hong Kong citizens who have broken the law during the protests.

Protesters use makeshift protective gear to avoid tear gas as they attend a demonstration outside Government Complex in Hong Kong.

Now the most popular chant is a rallying cry first used by a now jailed independence activist: "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time!".

Last week, the PLA garrison there issued a video showing "anti-riot" exercises, and its top brass warned violence is "absolutely impermissible".

"And this isn't an easy decision for them to take, because the consequences of using the troops stationed in Hong Kong will be to affects China's worldwide standing, Hong Kong's economy and the mainland's economy", he said. Some individual travel agencies have reported a 30% to 50% increase in cancellations of mainland [Chinese] and south-east Asia travel groups to Hong Kong. Major roads and public transit lines were blocked, while at least 77 flights out of the airport were cancelled.

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