China's ambassador to Britain has said that the top priority in Hong Kong is to "end violence and restore order," denouncing what he called the "inhuman, murderous violence" that "must not be tolerated."
Rioters in Hong Kong occupied roads and buildings at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong over the weekend. On Sunday, they shot arrows and hurled petrol bombs from the campus at police, and set fire to the flyover connecting the campus and the Hung Hom MTR station. One police officer was shot in the leg with an arrow.
"The recent escalation of illegal, violent activities pushed Hong Kong into an extremely dangerous situation," said Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, addressing media at the Chinese Embassy in London.
Quoting comments made by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the recent BRICS Summit in Brazil, Liu said "the incessant extreme violent offences in Hong Kong trampled on the rule of law, disrupted public order, severely undermined the prosperity and stability in Hong Kong, and gravely challenged the bottom line of 'One Country, Two Systems'."
Expanding upon Xi's speech and discussing those at the university, Liu said that "while claiming they stand with the weak, the rioters have indiscriminately hurt ordinary citizens… such inhuman, murderous violence in broad daylight trampled on the bottom lines of law, morality and civilization and must not be tolerated."
Repercussions in Europe and worldwide
Liu described how events in Hong Kong have had repercussions in Europe: "Some besieged the Secretary for Justice of Hong Kong SAR, who was invited to an event in London," he said.
"She was pushed to the ground and sustained an arm injury. We express the strongest indignation and condemnation over these violent acts."
Turning to the global perception of events, Liu warned that Hong Kong's reputation was being tarnished. "In media reports, Hong Kong is now associated with incessant violence and disorder."
"The success and achievements of the past 22 years since the handover are being eroded. The once oriental pearl is turning into an oriental scar. Hong Kong the fragrant harbour is sliding into an abyss of chaos. The future of Hong Kong, if such a situation continues, would be unimaginably dreadful."
Liu also criticized "external interference" from other governments and media outlets. "External forces that have indulged and fanned violence in Hong Kong cannot absolve themselves of the responsibility for the recent escalation of violence," he said. "They confuse right and wrong, and refer to the extreme violent offenders as 'peaceful demonstrators' and 'pro-democracy protesters.'
"At the same time, they are piling blame on Hong Kong police who are performing their duty, safeguarding the rule of law and protecting the safety of life and property of Hong Kong citizens."
The ambassador finished by appealing to the British people. "There are 300,000 British citizens and more than 700 British companies in Hong Kong," he said. "Continued chaos in Hong Kong will bring nothing but harm to the UK.
"I sincerely hope that British people who have the larger picture in mind will have a clear understanding of the current situation. I hope they will support the SAR Government in ending violence, restoring order and upholding the rule of law."
Meanwhile the UK government said it was concerned by the violence on "all sides."
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We remain seriously concerned by the situation in Hong Kong and the escalation of violence between protesters and police. We continue to urge for calm and restraint on all sides and support the right to peaceful protest."