Hong Kong police warned yesterday that protesters in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory might engage in violence “one step closer to terrorism” during this week’s National Day events, a claim ridiculed by activists as propaganda meant to scare people from taking to the streets.
Police public relations chief Tse Chun-chung said information suggested protesters were inciting others to commit “extreme acts” such as killing police, posing as police officials to kill civilians and large-scale arson during today’s holiday.
“We are on the verge of extreme danger,” Mr Tse claimed. “There are apparent signs that hard-core violence may escalate. Those acts are one step closer to terrorism.”
Politician Claudia Mo called the police intelligence “a joke”, saying the warning echoed one made by a Chinese-government newspaper days earlier.
“This is Chinese propaganda at play,” she said. “What’s more worrying is that police have admitted to its officials masquerading as protesters.
“So who will be the arsonists? Who will be the murderers? The goal is to institute fear in society so that people will be scared to go out. This is a despicable tactic.”
Echoing that view was Bonnie Leung of the Civil Human Rights Front, which has organised several massive rallies in nearly four months of anti-government protests.
Violence erupted over the weekend in what has become a familiar cycle since protests began in June over a now-shelved extradition bill and have escalated into an anti-China movement.
Many people see Beijing as chipping away at the freedoms Hong Kong was promised when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Authorities are looking to avoid any potential violence on China’s National Day, as showdowns could embarrass Chinese President Xi Jinping when his ruling Communist Party marks 70 years since taking power.