The police attempt to disperse masked protesters after the illegal protest turns radical and violent in late night on July 27, 2019. [Photo/China Daily]
In its first ever news briefing on Monday, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, the country's top office in charge of the affairs of the two special administrative regions, expressed the central government's concern about the well-being of Hong Kong in light of the continuing violent protests in the city.
No society under the rule of law will tolerate rampant violence, a spokesperson said, calling on all sectors of Hong Kong society to "clearly oppose violence", "strongly uphold the rule of law" and end the political gridlock to focus on economic development and improving people's livelihoods.
Weeks of violence by a few radicals have damaged Hong Kong's reputation of being one of the safest cities in the world. Already, some foreign governments, such as those of Japan and the Republic of Korea, have issued travel warnings to their citizens and there has been a significant drop in the number of tourist arrivals recently. Local consumer sentiment has also turned sour with growing worries about jobs. As a result, a double-digit decline in both tourist arrivals and retail sales has been forecast for the month of July by government officials.
Business confidence has also been dented, and any prolonged violence could further dampen consumer and business confidence, which would not bode well for the livelihoods of Hong Kong people.
The unbridled assaults on police officers, the legislature building and other government premises have dealt a big blow to Hong Kong's rule of law. In a statement on Monday, police said 49 "radical protesters" had been arrested for a variety of offenses during clashes on Sunday, when rioters hurled bricks, bottles, paint bombs and corrosive liquids at police, and even a crossbow was used to fire ball bearings.
The rule of law is a core value Hong Kong people revere and defend like a faith as it is the strongest pillar that underpins the city's global competitiveness. Any further erosion of it could herald a permanent decline for the city.
The Hong Kong Police Force, which has demonstrated admirable courage, fortitude and professionalism in its operations to restore order in the face of the shocking acts by the radical protesters, has the full support of the central government.
Now the majority of Hong Kong residents that abhor the violence need to make themselves heard. They have expressed their support for the Hong Kong Police Force and objection to the antics of the radical protesters. But the violence unleashed again by the extremists over the weekend suggests they need to express their objections in a stronger voice and a more serious manner.
Maintaining social harmony and stability serves the interests of all in Hong Kong as well as those of outside investors. It is also a prerequisite for addressing the deep-seated problems that have built up over a long period of time.
If the disorder persists, it will be the whole of Hong Kong society that pays the price.