(Left) A national flag raising ceremony is held in a middle school in Hong Kong on August 5 People take part in a rally to denounce violence and support the police force at Victoria Park in Hong Kong on August 3 (XINHUA)
Hong Kong's transport network was partially paralyzed on August 5, as protesters created fresh chaos. Metro commuters were seriously affected by these actions, as many lines suspended operations.
The metro system in Hong Kong transports about 5.8 million passengers a day.
At the Fortress Hill metro station, protesters repeatedly blocked train car doors, causing the suspension of operations.
Footage aired by local broadcasters also showed motorists angrily accusing protesters of blocking traffic on the city's main avenues. Flights were canceled at Hong Kong International Airport, one of the busiest in the world.
A passenger surnamed Woo said he was unable to fly to Japan as scheduled. "It is very selfish for some people to hurt the interests of the vast majority of residents in the name of so-called democracy," he said.
Many Hong Kong residents decided to go to work anyway and were not bothered by leaving home one or two hours earlier to avoid traffic disturbances.
Weeks of protests in Hong Kong escalated into a spate of violent incidents, which have seen some forces assault police officers and commit arson and vandalism, among other serious law violations.
Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor warned at a press conference on August 5 that extreme violence was pushing Hong Kong to a "very dangerous situation."
She urged people to peacefully express their demands and not to destroy the prosperous and stable future of Hong Kong. Violence would send Hong Kong on a road of no return, she warned. Lam said radicals' violent expression of their demands had come at the expense of others' freedom and rights.
They defaced the Chinese national emblem and flung the national flag into the sea. All these actions challenged China's sovereignty and undermined the "one country, two systems" principle as well as Hong Kong's stability and prosperity, Lam said.
"Hong Kong's future and the lives of its more than 7 million people shouldn't be put at stake," Lam said, calling for the peaceful expression of demands from Hong Kong residents.
At a press conference on August 6, Yang Guang, spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said that the violent protests in Hong Kong severely impacted the region's prosperity and stability and were pushing it toward a "dangerous abyss."
"Over the past two months, they have gone beyond freedom of assembly, demonstration or protest and have escalated into extremely violent acts. With upgraded means, escalating intensity and aggravating destructiveness, these acts are shocking," Yang said.
As of August 6, 461 people had been injured in violent conflicts, including 139 police officers, according to Yang.
He also told the press conference that the protests seriously affected Hong Kong's economy and people's livelihood, citing that the region's GDP in the second quarter increased by only 0.6 percent in real terms year on year, and the fact that 18 countries and regions had issued travel safety reminders against Hong Kong.
A small number of violent radicals were at the front, with some kind-hearted citizens misguided and coerced in the middle, but the masterminds behind the scenes were the anti-China forces inside and outside of Hong Kong, which have been trying to bring chaos to Hong Kong, the spokesperson said.
"They have called black white and spared no efforts in playing up fallacies and absurdities such as so-called 'civil disobedience' and even the fallacious view that 'only violence can solve problems'," he said.
Yang said they had whitewashed and instigated violence, attempting to drag all Hong Kong residents into political wrangling and intensifying social contradictions.
People take part in a rally to denounce violence and support the police force at Victoria Park in Hong Kong on August 3. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents gathered to express their strong opposition to violence and firm support for the police force (XINHUA)
Call for order
Yu Hoi-kwan, Acting Chief Superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, said at a press briefing on that day that the 420 people, arrested between June 9 and August 5, were charged with taking part in riot, unlawful assembly, assaulting police and other offensives.
Calls for peace and order were mounting among ordinary Hong Kong residents. A fruit stand owner surnamed Suen complained that few people bought fruit on August 5.
"I hope the situation is temporary and will subside as soon as possible," Suen said. "The government should not give in. The radicals want a yard after taking an inch."
"Local people hung out less as transport became less convenient, and tourists dare not come to Hong Kong since they are afraid of the social chaos," said a pharmacy store owner on Hennessy Road surnamed Ho, who wished the radicals would go home and leave ordinary residents alone. "Otherwise, we are paying the price for what they did," she said.
Gary Lee and his wife kept their tiny restaurant open throughout August 5. "Of course we are worried, but we need to do business. We have rent to pay," said Lee's wife. "We want our old, normal days back."
At the press conference on August 6, spokesperson Yang Guang called on people in Hong Kong to stand firm and guard their beautiful homeland.
No Hong Kong departments or organs should ever be soft on violent violations of the law, Yang stressed.
Reiterating the Central Government's unswerving support for Chief Executive Lam, the spokesperson said the opposition's attempt to force her to resign is doomed to fail.
"We hope that the people of Hong Kong understand the nature of the current situation, and firmly support HKSAR Chief Executive Lam in leading the HKSAR government's law-based governance, the Hong Kong police in enforcing laws rigorously, and HKSAR government departments and the judiciary body in punishing violent criminals in accordance with the law," Yang said.
He then made it clear to "the very small group of unscrupulous and violent criminals and the dirty forces behind them" that those who play with fire would perish by it, and that whoever participates in violent and criminal activities would be held accountable according to the law.
"All in all, the fate of Hong Kong will be decided by all Chinese people including Hong Kong compatriots," Yang added.
Hong Kong is facing the most severe situation since its return to the motherland, said Zhang Xiaoming, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, at a symposium jointly held by the office and the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR on August 7.
"The most pressing and overriding task at present is to stop the violence, end the chaos and restore order, so as to safeguard our homeland and prevent Hong Kong from sinking into an abyss," Zhang said.
More than 550 people attended the meeting, including HKSAR deputies to the National People's Congress, HKSAR national and provincial political advisors, leaders of patriotic political and social organizations in Hong Kong, as well as those from relevant youth, educational and professional organizations and mainland enterprises operating in Hong Kong.
(Based on reports of Xinhua News Agency)
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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