|Alexis Villarias |||Feb 16, 2016 04:58 AM EST|
(Photo : Getty Images) Rioters throw bricks at police in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on February 9, 2016 in Hong Kong. More than 40 police officers and journalists were among the people injured during the riot on the first day of Chinese New Year celebrations.
The Chinese central government has condemned the violence that occurred in Mong Kok on the first day of the Chinese New Year. Beijing has described the troublemakers behind the violence as "separatists."
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A riot in Mong Kok during the Chinese New Year celebrations left hundreds of people hospitalized and some detained. Last week Friday, Hong Kong police reportedly arrested a total of 65 people and charged 41 of them over the Mong Kok incident.
According to South China Morning Post, Beijing's top man in Hong Kong broke his silence over the Mong Kok riot on Sunday morning. He described those who took part in the protest as "radical separatists," who were predisposed towards terrorism, adding that the rioters are "thugs".
The grave indictment by Zhang Xiaoming, director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, is a demonstration of Beijing's tougher take on social unrest in Hong Kong, putting the rioters in a similar category with separatists in the Tibet and Xinjiang regions.
Zhang spoke on Sunday, Feb. 14, almost a week after the overnight unrest.
In an official statement, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the riot that occurred in Mong Kok on Feb. 9 was initially plotted by a local radical separatist organisation.
The foreign ministry has expressed strong condemnation of the violence, rendering its full support to Hong Kong police in maintaining peace and justice in the city.
The government's classification of the protesters as "separatists" raises a lot of questions. Critics say the categorization that may lead to the unnecessary escalation of anti-mainland sentiment.
The Communist Party has pledged to eradicate the three core threats of secession, terrorism and extreme religious forces. Offenders in mainland China can be handed with the death penalty. However, this does not apply in Hong Kong.
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