China on Wednesday slammed pro-democracy protesters at Hong Kong airport for “terrorist-like” acts, after two men were beaten by demonstrators.
Activists blocked two-terminal in the city in the latest escalation of a 10-week political crisis that has gripped the international finance hub and forced the closure of the airport.
A small group of protesters also surrounded, tied up and beat a man wearing a yellow journalist vest — whom the editor of China’s state-controlled Global Times identified as one of the paper’s reporters — and another man Beijing said was a Shenzhen resident visiting Hong Kong.
“We express the strongest condemnation of these terrorist-like actions,” said Xu Luying, a spokeswoman at the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs of the State Council, who called the two men “mainland China compatriots.”
The man Xu identified as a Shenzhen resident was held for about two hours before eventually being taken away in an ambulance.
The actions of the protesters “seriously damage the international image of Hong Kong and seriously hurt the feelings of a vast number of mainland China compatriots”, said Xu, saying the “extremely abominable violent crime must be severely punished according to the law”.
Last month, Thousands of pro-democracy protesters defied a police ban and began marching through Hong Kong a day after riot-police fired rubber bullets and tear gas in the latest violent confrontation to plunge the financial hub deeper into crisis.
Huge crowds gathered in the heart of the city’s commercial district after police gave permission for a static protest in a park but banned a proposed march through the city.
The demonstrations over the last ten weeks were triggered by a controversial bill which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, but have evolved into a call for wider democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms.
According to reports, multiple protests sometimes violent, continue to take place in the semi-autonomous state despite the city’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam publicly apologising for proposing the controversial legislation and announcing later that the bill has been suspended.
The extradition bill was proposed on April 3 this year.