China has issued a stark warning following a stunning landslide victory for pro-democracy candidates in Hong Kong's first elections since anti-government unrest gripped the city several months ago.
Foreign minister Wang Yi emphasized that the city will always be ruled from Beijing, and said that ongoing violence and "attempts to disrupt Hong Kong" would not be tolerated, as several hundred people took to the streets in solidarity with protesters at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which has been under siege by police for over a week, according to The Guardian.
Wang told reporters at the G20 meeting in Tokyo, adding "Any attempts to disrupt Hong Kong or undermine its stability and prosperity will not succeed."
The election results pose a dilemma for Beijing, and Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam. Hand-picked to rule by party leaders, she is widely accepted to have coordinated her hardline response to protesters with China’s top leadership.
Before the vote, Lam often claimed she had the support of a “silent majority”, as she refused to compromise. With that position untenable after pro-government candidates were swept from power across the city, holding on to barely one in 10 seats on district councils, she took a more conciliatory approach.
On Monday, she promised to respect the election results and “listen humbly” to the views of the public. Refusing to compromise would almost certainly inflame residents and protesters further, nearly six months into a deep political crisis. -The Guardian
And while Lam and Beijing figure out how to calm the masses, China's autocratic president, Xi Jinping, is now faced with one of the most serious challenges to his rule since he took power in 2012. And as The Guardian notes, most Chinese media made no mention of Sunday's sweeping victory for pro-democracy candidates - just that the polls had closed.
Following Wang's comments, ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated a warning to the protesters, saying "The most urgent task for Hong Kong at present is to stop violence, control chaos and restore order," and that "The Chinese government is unswervingly determined to safeguard national sovereignty, and to oppose any interference in Hong Kong affairs by external forces."