China lifts blackout to show Hong Kong protests on mainland
Chinese state media ended its blackout of the Hong Kong protests yesterday, broadcasting footage of "serious illegal actions" after a group of demonstrators stormed the parliament building on Monday.
Censors yesterday allowed clips to be shown of the ransacking of the legislature, where protesters smashed through glass barriers before daubing pro-democracy slogans on the walls and displaying a British flag.
The break-in provoked a rare split in the protest movement as some demonstrators said the actions of a few hundred could undermine the peaceful behaviour of millions.
For more than a month, protesters have flooded the streets in an attempt to block a proposal that would allow the extradition of suspects to the Chinese mainland, the latest in what they complain are a string of power grabs by Beijing.
Opposition politicians and some protesters questioned if the police deliberately allowed violence to spiral in order to justify a potential crackdown.
Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, warned China of "serious consequences" if it sought to use the disorder as a pretext for further interference in the colony Britain agreed to hand over in 1997.
"The UK signed an international binding legal agreement that enshrines the 'one country, two systems rule,' enshrines the basic freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, and we stand four-square behind that agreement, four-square behind the people of Hong Kong," Mr Hunt said.
Beijing yesterday described the protesters' actions, which came on the anniversary of Britain's handover of the territory, as "totally intolerable".
"The violent attacks are serious illegal acts that trample on the rule of law and endanger social order," said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's foreign ministry.
State-run newspapers ran condemning editorials as Chinese audiences saw their first footage of the protests, something censors had sought to prevent for fear it could inspire trouble on the mainland.
"These violent assailants in their arrogance pay no heed to Hong Kong's law, no doubt arousing the anger and sadness of all people of the city of Hong Kong," said an editorial in 'Global Times', a Communist Party mouthpiece.
While Hong Kong's leaders last month suspended the extradition bill given the massive outcry, protesters used the traditional pro-democracy march on the anniversary of the handover to demand its complete removal.
The protests had largely been peaceful before Monday, when authorities unleashed tear gas and rubber bullets.