'We are fully prepared for the worst', Chinese ambassador to UK Liu Xiaoming warns Hong Kong protesters

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry, in Hong Kong

China's ambassador to the UK has said Beijing will not "sit on its hands and watch... the situation in Hong Kong deteriorate further", warning it is "fully prepared for the worst", as clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters continue.

Speaking in London, Liu Xiaoming also urged British politicians not to interfere in Hong Kong and criticised Western media for "biased" reporting of what is going on.

The 63-year-old said that extremists masquerading as democracy protesters are dragging Hong Kong "down a dangerous road", and that if the unrest becomes "uncontrollable, the central government will not sit on its hands and watch".

Viiolence in Hong King has escalated, Credit: APImages

"We have enough solutions and enough power within the limits of basic law to quell any unrest swiftly," he said.

He added:"We hope this will end in an orderly way.

"In the meantime we are fully prepared for the worst."

At the same time, the ambassador blamed Western media for "pouring oil on the flames" and exacerbating the situation.

Mr Xiaoming also accused Western media of reporting "biased accounts" of what is happening and not adequately covering the support for the authorities and police, adding this is "misleading the young".

He said the media must bear some "responsibility" for what is happening in the Asian financial capital.

Liu Xiaoming is China's ambassador in the UK. Credit: PA

Mr Xiaoming also accused some UK politicians of having a colonial mindset and still believing the special administrative region is part of the British empire.

His comments at a press conference came days after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was told by Beijing to stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs.

Downing Street has expressed its concern about the violence and called for "calm from all sides".

Foreign Office minister Andrew Murrison sought to play down any division with Beijing.

He urged all sides to exercise restraint - including the protesters - but added he was sure China respected the treaty signed with the UK before the handover of Hong Kong.

But Lord Patten, the UK's final colonial governor of the territory, has been vocal in calling for Boris Johnson to act in defence of Hong Kong's freedoms.

Mr Liu warned unnamed "foreign forces" against interference, adding: "I want to reiterate here that Hong Kong is part of China.

"I sincerely hope that people from all walks of life in the UK will have a clear understanding of a big picture, act in the interests of Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, and refrain from saying or doing anything that interferes in Hong Kong's affairs or undermines the rule of law in Hong Kong."

He was asked about a proposal by the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee chairman, Tom Tugendhat, to extend UK citizenship rights to Hong Kong Chinese.

Mr Liu replied that some British politicians think "their hands are still in the colonial days".

"I think some of them still regard Hong Kong as part of British empire and they treat Hong Kong as part of the UK," he added.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong airport hold a banner apologising for any inconvenience caused. Credit: AP

Hong Kong is a former British territory which was handed back to China in 1997, but the region enjoys special freedoms, for example in law, that the mainland does not.

Some demonstrators have inadvertently pitted the UK against China in the protests, with demonstrators tearing down Chinese flags and waving union jacks.

Protests that began in early June have paralysed parts of the territory, including its international airport, and led to hundreds of arrests.

Violent clashes between police and protesters have broken out during the demonstrations which have seen police fire more than 1,800 rounds of tear gas and a nurse reportedly blinded after she was shot by a bean bag round.

A group of men hold a Chinese flag as they face off against police officers. Credit: AP

On Monday and Tuesday hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed when demonstrators filled Hong Kong International Airport's terminal, and clashes between police and protesters inside turned increasingly violent.

An injunction has since been acquired which restricts where demonstrators can go in the airport, leading to a normal service being resumed.

Hong Hong protesters face tear gas. Credit: AP

Demonstrations began in June after the Hong Kong government attempted to introduce an extradition bill which would mean criminal suspects could face trial in mainland China.

Since then, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that the bill is "dead" and has been suspended, but protesters want it to be withdrawn completely.

The demonstrations have since morphed to include Ms Lam's resignation, democratic elections, the release of those arrested in earlier protests and an investigation into police use of force against protesters.