In what appears to be a first since Hong Kong was handed back to China by the UK in 1997, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, a mainland authority that oversees the two Chinese territories, held a press conference on Monday where they reiterated that the violent protests that continued through Sunday wouldn't be tolerated by Beijing's government, BBG reports.
The HKMAO, which answers directly to China's cabinet, reaffirmed its support for the city's government and police during what was a rare press briefing on Monday. After the briefing, the heads of the authority brusquely left the room, ignoring questions shouted by journalists.
What started as a protest movement to kill the hated Hong Kong extradition bill, which would have given the city-state's government the power to extradite anybody to the mainland to face punishment for alleged crimes. Opponents saw the bill, which was being fast-tracked by the authority, would have allowed Beijing to arrest dissidents traveling through Hong Kong. Earlier this month, City Executive Carrie Lam tabled the withdrawal bill, but refused to take the additional step that would have taken it off the legislative agenda. With the possibility that Lam could back track as soon as protests calmed down, more Hong Kongers took to the streets to demand that Lam, who was selected by Beijing to lead Hong Kong's government, resign, and that she take the additional steps to kill the legislation for the current cycle.
But the HKMAO reiterated that the protests have devolved into "evil and criminal acts" committed by "radical elements."