China warns Hong Kong protesters punishment is ‘only a matter of time’

A protester is shrouded by tear gas in Hong Kong Credit: Kin Cheung/AP

A Chinese official responsible for Hong Kong affairs says punishment for those behind weeks of sometimes-violent protests in the Chinese special administrative region is “only a matter of time”.

The comments on Tuesday by Yang Guang, spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, suggest Beijing will take a hard line against the protests and has no plans to open a dialogue on their demands for political reforms.

Mr Yang singled out “brazen, violent and criminal actors” and the “meddling hands behind the scenes” as the focus of law enforcement efforts, saying “as for their punishment, it’s only a matter of time.”

Mr Yang also called on Hong Kong citizens to turn on the protesters by refusing to accept their promotional materials and opposing disruptions to public transport.

Yang Guang said punishment is only a matter of time. Credit: AP

Meanwhile, protesters condemned what they call the government’s “empty rhetoric” and instances of alleged police abuse in an inaugural People’s Press Conference.

Three protesters who spoke to reporters said the briefing was intended to counter the regular government and police news conferences in which authorities have repeatedly decried violent acts by some pro-democracy demonstrators.

  • ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine reports from Hong Kong

An activist using the pseudonym Jerry Chan said some officers have shown “total lack of self-discipline”, adding that some tear gas was fired on residential buildings during clashes across several districts Monday.

The protesters apologised for the inconveniences brought on by a general strike on Monday that paralysed regular workday operations in the city.

Major roads and public transit lines were blocked, while at least 77 flights out of the airport were cancelled.