Hours after clashes between pro-democracy protesters and the police forced the temporary closure of government headquarters in Hong Kong, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that security forces will take “resolute action” against those defying orders to vacate the streets, according to media reports.
“Some people have mistaken the police's tolerance for weakness,” Leung reportedly said on Monday, after police arrested at least 40 people in Admiralty, which is the largest remaining protest site. “Please do not take tolerance as incapability in handling the issue... I call for students who are planning to return to the occupation sites tonight not to do so.”
The Hong Kong government also issued a strongly-worded statement on Monday, criticizing the protesters for showing “blatant disregard for the law.”
“The Government strongly condemns the student groups for planning illegal assemblies and inciting protesters to charge towards the CGO (Central Government Offices) repeatedly,” a government spokesperson said, in the statement. “The Government appeals to organizers of the illegal assemblies to stop their illegal acts immediately and asks all participants to remain calm and exercise restraint … and leave the scene peacefully and in an orderly manner.”
A number of pro-Beijing media outlets in China and Hong Kong also hit out at the protesters, accusing them of intensifying the crisis and “exhausting police resources.”
Ta Kung Pao, a pro-Beijing Chinese daily, in a report published Monday, referred to the “arrogant rioters” as “rats running across the streets,” and alleged that the protests were a part of a larger “political conspiracy.”
Similarly, a report by Xinhua, China’s state-owned news agency, termed the protesters “violent radicals” who were “aggravating the damage to social order and sacrificing the overall interests of the Hong Kong people.”
Meanwhile, Alex Chow, a leader of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, said that the overnight action by demonstrators, which sought to “paralyze government operations,” was a success, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.
“Our objective is very clear, which is to have the government respond to our demand, and this action will continue until they respond,” Chow reportedly said.