China made its most ominous threat yet to Hong Kong protesters Tuesday when it warned that "those who play with fire will perish by it." The warning came one day after the most widespread unrest of the two-month crisis. About 150 arrests were made related to Monday’s demonstrations.

The comments were made during a Beijing press briefing when the spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, Yang Guang, said the "radical protests ... have severely impacted Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, pushing it into a dangerous abyss." Yang added that the Chinese government "firmly supports" the Hong Kong Police Force and Carrie Lam, the city's pro-Beijing leader. Protesters are demanding that she step down.

Read all about the Hong Kong protests here.

Yang continued, "We would like to make it clear to the very small group of unscrupulous and violent criminals and the dirty forces behind them: Those who play with fire will perish by it. Don't ever misjudge the situation and mistake our restraint for weakness ... Don't ever underestimate the firm resolve and immense strength of the central government."

Even though Yang downplayed the idea, this was an obvious hint that the “fire” in this situation might be the deployment of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison already stationed in Hong Kong.

Monday’s unrest disrupted flights with the shutdown of a runway at the Hong Kong International Airport plus the stoppage of train / subway services. Ignoring the warnings of the press conference, the clashes between the police and protesters continued into Tuesday night when police used tear gas against a gathering of protesters. Police stations have become a favored target of the rioters who are armed with stones, eggs, bottles and even large slingshots to launch bricks over walls.

2016-05-17T045441Z_385251371_S1BETEMSYZAA_RTRMADP_3_CHINA-HONGKONG-ZHANG Police officers patrol before the arrival of Zhang Dejiang, the chairman of China's National People's Congress, for a three-day visit in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

An unusual event occurred Tuesday when a trio of masked young people (described as youngsters by CNA) held a “civilian press conference” to condemn Lam and other pro-Beijing leaders and demand democracy, liberty and equality. The two young men and one young woman said, "We call on the government to return the power back to the people and to address the demands of Hong Kong citizens.”

The demonstrators have the support of Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House Speaker. Pelosi said, "The Legislative Council must finally take long-overdue measures to meet the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people.”

She went on to repeat her call for Washington to suspend sales of munitions and crowd control gear to the Hong Kong Police Force.