During his two-day state visit to Nepal on Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a stern warning against dissent as protests continue in Hong Kong, saying any attempt to divide China will end in “crushed bodies and shattered bones”.
“Anyone who attempts to split any region from China will perish, with their bodies smashed and bones ground to powder,” President Xi said, according to the foreign ministry statement.
Xi further said, “Any external forces that support the splitting of China can only be regarded as delusional by the Chinese people”.
While the Chinese leader did not mention any region by name, his comments came as riot police and pro-democracy protesters clashed again in Hong Kong on Sunday and amid tensions with self-ruled Taiwan.
China has accused “external forces” of fuelling unrest in the semi-autonomous city, a former British colony that enjoys rights unheard of in the mainland, such as freedom of speech.
The protests were sparked by opposition to a now-scrapped proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China, but have since morphed into a larger movement for democracy and police accountability.
There have been concerns that China could send in troops to put an end to the unrest, but Beijing has so far said it believes Hong Kong’s police force is capable of handling the protests.
Earlier in the day, Hong Kong activists plan to rally after another weekend of unrest that saw protesters hurl petrol bombs and police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, as violence in the Chinese-ruled city shows no signs of letting up.
Hong Kong’s protests started in June against proposals to allow extradition to mainland China, a move many feared would undermine the city’s judicial independence and endanger dissidents.
Xi arrived in Nepal on Saturday evening for talks with his Nepali counterpart Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
President Bhandari greeted Xi on arrival at the airport ringed by hills. Thousands of people stood along the flower festooned route to welcome the Chinese leader as he drove from the airport to the hotel.
Xi, the first Chinese president to visit Nepal in 22 years, arrived from India, where he held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Nepal, a natural buffer between India and China, has been trying to lessen its dependence on New Delhi.