Senior Hong Kong officials warned on Wednesday that rioters will never achieve any of their demands through illegal acts, as the city descended into chaos for a third consecutive day.
Speaking at a news briefing and legislative inquiry, three officials from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government called on the whole of society to support the government and say "no" to violence.
No one can use their political ideals or dissatisfaction with the government as an excuse to blatantly break the law, Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said at the Legislative Council inquiry on Wednesday.
The recent violence in Hong Kong has been severe and widespread, and it would not be acceptable in any civilized society, Cheung said. The violence has blocked people's way to work and school, deprived them of their freedom of movement and posed a serious threat to the whole community, he said.
"Violence is pushing Hong Kong toward the abyss," he added.
Cheung reiterated that the government will firmly support the police in quelling violence, and called on the public to stay away from illegal assemblies.
For the third straight day, protesters disrupted traffic across Hong Kong. Service along two rail lines was forced to shut down completely and a dozen stations were closed.
Only 100 of the 650 franchised bus routes could offer limited service on Wednesday, said Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan.
Chan condemned Tuesday's attacks on several MTR stations. Radicals severely threatened passenger safety as they threw gasoline bombs at moving trains and scattered debris on rail tracks. About 200 traffic lights were also damaged and in need of repair, he added.
A group of locals voluntarily cleared bricks and debris from roads in Yuen Long on Wednesday morning. Traffic in the area has been severely disrupted, with railway tracks damaged and roads blocked by debris and bricks from Tuesday's clashes.
The Education Bureau announced a full-day suspension of school on Thursday due to safety concerns.
The chaotic traffic and dangerous road conditions have made it very difficult for students to attend classes, a bureau spokesperson said in a statement.
Schools had even received threats to suspend classes for various periods. Some school buses were damaged after principals refused to comply, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong announced on Wednesday afternoon an abrupt end to the current semester, with all remaining classes canceled, after a full day of violent confrontation adjacent to its Sha Tin campus. The university arranged for students to leave campus by bus.
Following CUHK's decision, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology said that classes will be conducted online starting next week until the end of the current term, given the escalation of unrest.
Hong Kong Baptist University announced a similar online learning arrangement at the same time in view of potential disruptions to campus services due to the ongoing civil unrest.
The Commissioner's Office of the Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region expressed firm opposition on Wednesday to false and misleading reports about Hong Kong by some Western media outlets.
A spokesperson for the office said in a statement that those reports accused police of stopping violence with "excessive use of force" and whitewashed rioters' crime of setting an innocent citizen afire and their attempts to snatch guns from police officers.
The spokesperson said that selective reports and comments by some Western media outlets in Hong Kong have grossly distorted the truth.
The spokesperson urged those Western media sources to immediately stop distorting the truth and pouring fuel on the fire in Hong Kong. Otherwise, they would only be condemned by all fair-minded people, including 1.4 billion Chinese.