• China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office says violent protests will not be tolerated
  • Backs Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Hong Kong Police
  • Office's briefing comes amid fears Chinese government may send PLA to suppress protests 

China sent a clear warning to protesters in Hong Kong on Monday,  saying that the "violent protests" will not be "tolerated," and reaffirming its support for Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

The tough words show that the Chinese government is only hardening its stance in the face of a mounting tide of protests that has thrown the island nation into chaos the last few weekends.

In the first-ever press briefing since it was established in  1997, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, which reports to China's cabinet, said: “If Hong Kong continues to be in chaos, it will have a cost upon society.”  The briefing was held in Beijing.

Rioting in Hong Kong has intensified over the weekend as the Hong Kong Police Force used rubber-coated bullets and tear gas on thousands of protestors massed at the Chinese government's Liaison office in western Hong Kong. Demonstrations also were reported at a police station.

2 million peotesters in Hong Kong Protesters takeover an expressway as they march against the extradition bill on June 16, 2019 in Hong Kong China. Large numbers of protesters rallied on Sunday despite an announcement yesterday by Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam that the controversial extradition bill will be suspended indefinitely. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

The seven weeks of riots stem from an extradition bill that the Chinese need to be able to take people back to the mainland to face charges. The protesters fear that the extradition process will be for trumped-up charges and will result in human rights abuses. In addition to formally withdrawing the bill, the demonstrators are demanding that several police and government leaders step down and that an investigation into police tactics used in earlier uprisings be held.

On Monday, in reply to a question, Yang Guang, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office's spokesperson, dismissed the idea of civil disobediance, saying, “Violence is violence, breaking the law is breaking the law.”

“What has happened in Hong Kong recently has gone far beyond the scope of peaceful march and demonstration, undermined Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and touched on the bottom line of the principle of ‘one country, two systems’,” Yang said, adding: “No civilized society under the rule of law would ever allow acts of violence to take place.”

The briefing has come as fears intensify that China could use the People's Liberation Army stationed in the island to suppress the protests, like it did with the Tiananment protests in Beijing in 1989. 

Protesters on Sunday used bricks, crude weapons and sheets of glass to thwart the riot police armed with batons in addition to trained riot squad members known as "Raptor" squads. Two members of the press as well as some protesters were injured. The chaos extended several blocks into the western part of Hong Kong. The actions, along with last weekend’s unrest where protesters used spray paint and eggs have angered authorities in Beijing

The Hong Kong government said, "We strongly condemn the radical protesters who disregarded the law and order and violently breached the public peace. We will continue to give full support to the police to strictly enforce the law to stop all violent behaviors."

Kris Cheng, a Hong Kong journalist, told Al Jazeera (a Qatari based television news channel), "We see increasing cracks within the government with calls for a public rally hosted by civil servants, so we will see if the government itself is losing support from its own employees.”

Cheng is also of the opinion that the situation will not improve until the protesters’ demands are met.

Sarah Clarke, an Australian freelance correspondent with Al Jazeera English and ABC TV, reported from Hong Kong that "There have been no concessions from either side, and both sides are unlikely to back down.”

The will of the people is exemplified by the words of protester Phong Luk who said, "I have been to every protest and I never wear a mask.” Luk continued, "I'm doing nothing wrong. It is those in power that are wrong... At this point, there is nothing to be done except for Carrie Lam to step down, because she obviously cannot rule."

A second protester, Fernando Cheung, warned of continued violence that may escalate and told Al Jazeera, "I am looking at possible casualties, even fatalities."