China’s top office on Hong Kong affairs has said the city’s government must seek criminal liabilities from those who stormed into the Legislative Council building on Monday.
On Monday, hundreds stormed LegCo’s rear entrance, demonstrating against the government for not responding to their demands including withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill. They also called for the unconditional release of all arrested protesters and for an independent investigation into alleged police violence.
The masked protesters vandalised the interior, spray-painted anti-government graffiti on the walls and unfurled a colonial flag in the main chamber. They departed before midnight, when riot police deployed tear gas to clear the surrounding roads which were occupied by thousands of demonstrators.
The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council issued a statement on Tuesday morning saying that it supported the Hong Kong government and the police in handling the incident in accordance with the law.
“Such serious illegal acts trampled on Hong Kong’s rule of law, damaged Hong Kong’s social order, harmed Hong Kong’s interests – it is a public challenge to the bottom line of ‘One Country, Two Systems,'” it said.
“The central government staunchly supports the Hong Kong SAR government and the police to exercise their duties in accordance with the law, and supports relevant authorities of the Hong Kong SAR to seek responsibility from the violent criminals in accordance with the law,” it added.
Legislative Council President Andrew Leung has said the legislature will not be able to hold meetings over the next two weeks, following the destruction to the premises.
The legislature was originally scheduled to enter summer break by mid-July.
Leung said he was shocked by the scenes after he examined the damage on Tuesday morning with LegCo Secretary-General Kenneth Chen.
Leung said security, electrical and fire safety systems were damaged. But no security guards were injured: “I am very disappointed and saddened. I must issue my strongest condemnation over the violent acts,” he said.
He said some computer parts were missing but the police were still gathering evidence, so the secretariat could not make a full assessment of the damage. He said it may take “a considerable time” for the LegCo building to recover.
Pro-Beijing camp lawmakers also condemned protesters’ actions at a press conference.
Martin Liao, the camp’s convenor, said the police must arrest the “rioters.”
He said the pro-democracy camp should also condemn the protesters and not blame the government: “Otherwise, they are subtly allowing protesters to find the next opportunity to release their anger,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, Lawmaker Eddie Chu told HKFP outside the legislature on Tuesday that he understood the public may not approve of the scenes on Monday, but said disagreement would not affect protesters’ demands: “I don’t think it is a crucial question that we should agree on yesterday’s incident for the movement to move forward… this political issue has not been resolved and the tension will keep on escalating.”
“Hong Kong people’s solidarity will not be divided this time.”
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