By K J M Varma
(Eds: Updating with fresh inputs)
Beijing, Nov 14 (PTI) Breaking his silence over Hong Kong's unprecedented pro-democracy protests threatening China's control over the former British colony, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday said that the most pressing task at present is to bring violence and chaos to an end and restore order.
Xi's comments came at the 11th BRICS Summit in Brasilia, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported here.
Hong Kong is rocked by unprecedented pro-democracy protests for over five months and in the past few weeks they grew violent, bringing the international financial centre virtually to a grinding halt.
The protests which began over a proposed extradition law by the Hong Kong administration sparked fear of extradition of locals to the Chinese mainland for prosecution. It later turned into a major pro-democracy movement with demands to elect their local officials without Chinese interference.
The protestors, mainly youth, are demanding pro-China Chief Executive Carrie Lam's resignation, inquiry into police brutalities and universal franchise of 'one person one vote' with freedom for all the locals to contest elections for the local legislature.
Xi said the continuous radical violent activities in Hong Kong seriously trampled the rule of law and the social order, seriously disturb Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, and seriously challenge the "one country, two systems" bottom line, the report said.
He reiterated that it remains the most pressing task for Hong Kong to bring violence and chaos to an end and restore order.
"We will continue to firmly support the chief executive in leading the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government to govern in accordance with the law, firmly support the Hong Kong police in strictly enforcing the law, and firmly support the Hong Kong judicial bodies in severely punishing the violent criminals in accordance with the law," Xi said.
The Chinese government has unswerving determination to protect national sovereignty, security and development interests, implement "one country, two systems" policy and oppose any external force in interfering in Hong Kong's affairs, the Chinese President said.
This is the first time Xi, regarded as the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, spoke directly about the situation in Hong Kong, the former British colony handed over to Beijing in 1997.
Xi currently heads the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), the military besides the Presidency with prospects of a lifelong tenure in power.
Last month during his visit to Nepal, Xi was quoted as saying that any attempts to drive a wedge between China and its territories will "end in crushed bodies and shattered bones".
"Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones," media reports quoted him as saying.
He, however, did not name any particular province or region.
Nepal borders Tibet from where Tibetans crossover to Dharamsala to visit the Dalai Lama.
"And any external forces backing such attempts dividing China will be deemed by the Chinese people as pipe-dreaming!" Xi added. PTI KJV CPS