This weekend, Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong finally gave his take on the Mong Kok riot, calling those involved “radical separatists” that “even showed terrorist tendencies.”
The unusually harsh statement from Liason office director Zhang Xiaoming casts the Hong Kong rioters in the same boat as separatists in Xinjiang and Tibet. Here’s Zhang’s list of condemnations, via Xinhua:
We strongly condemn those rioters who maliciously committed beating, smashing, arson and other violent crimes
We strongly condemn those radical separatists whose behaviors got more and more violent and even showed terror tendencies.
We strongly condemn those remarks and sophistries that agitate for violence and confuse right and wrong, and even attempt to shift the blame onto other people.
Zhang added that he was distressed by the incident and had every confidence in the HK government and police to resolve the matter and bring those responsible to justice.
At the same event, Chief Executive CY Leung also weighed in, saying that the rioters represented the views of a very small minority in Hong Kong — mostly jobless, political radicals.
The riot began as a street hawker protest in the busy shopping district of Mong Kok early Tuesday morning. It quickly escalated and turned into something much more when police put on protective gear and tried to clear one street of illegal fishball sellers. They were bombarded with bricks and bottles by masked activists, police responded with batons, pepper spray and even fired two warning shots in the air during the chaos.
64 people were arrested in connection with the “fishball revolution.” Police have charged 35 men and three women, aged 15 to 70, for their involvement in the riot. Meanwhile, 16 more were released on bail pending further investigation while another 10 remain detained.