China’s No. 2 Speaks Out on Hong Kong Protests, Top Leader Xi Still Mum

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gives a speech at the Round Table of the German-Chinese Advised Economic Committee organized by BMWi and MOFCOM as part of the meeting with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at The Great Hall Of The People, in Beijing, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. (Andrea Verdelli/Pool Photo via …
Andrea Verdelli/Pool Photo via AP

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday came out in support of the efforts by the Beijing-appointed government of Hong Kong to end the pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese region.

Li declared:

[China supports the Hong Kong government’s efforts] to end the violence and chaos in accordance with the law, to return to order, which is to safeguard Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.

His comments came during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the South China Morning Post reported.

“[Please have confidence that] Chinese people have the capability and wisdom to manage well our own affairs,” Li added.

His comments are believed to be a warning to foreign governments not to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs.

The Chinese premier also vowed to safeguard the one country, two systems constitutional principle.

Li was referring to the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which states Hong Kong will retain a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. The city used to be a British colony.

“Beijing has declared the [declaration] paper a historical document that no longer has any realistic meaning,” SCMP acknowledged.

Li is the most senior official yet to speak out on Hong Kong’s unrest, which has turned violent at times with tensions between law enforcement and demonstrators reaching boiling point.

Chinese Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping has failed to significantly address the ongoing anti-government protests in Hong Kong directly.

On Tuesday, Xi said that “Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan” present significant risks and challenges for the Chinese Communist Party, cautioning members that they “must struggle when necessary,” SCMP noted.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has urged China to exercise restraint.

There are concerns that Beijing will use its military to quell the unrest.

China has accused the Trump administration of supporting the demonstrations on the island, warning that it would “show no mercy” to those behind the protests.

In a significant concession to the pro-democracy protesters, the Hong Kong government this week withdrew the extradition bill that sparked the rallies. The protests continue, however, with demonstrators arguing that the concession is not enough. The law would have allowed extraditions from Hong Kong to communist China.

The primary focus of the protests had entirely shifted to the region’s desire for democracy and full autonomy.

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