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Chinese envoy: Beijing will step in if HK becomes 'uncontrollable'

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China's Ambassador to Britain yesterday said Beijing will not simply sit back and watch if months of protests in Hong Kong develop into an "uncontrollable" situation.

In Hong Kong, cornered and increasingly desperate, a hardcore group of young pro-democracy protesters found themselves holed up at Hong Kong Polytechnic University late yesterday, running out of supplies and options, with police waiting outside.

Two different places, two different viewpoints, and according to China's Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, one outcome if the violence gets worse.

"I think the Hong Kong government is trying very hard to put the situation under control," he told a London press conference, as fresh violence erupts after months of protests.

"But if the situation becomes uncontrollable, the central government would certainly not sit on our hands and watch. We have enough resolution and power to end the unrest."

His comments come after a brief and rare deployment of Chinese troops in Hong Kong over the weekend to clean up the streets.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army has barracks in an upper-class district of Hong Kong.

Asked about a possible intervention, the envoy said: "They are there to show Chinese sovereignty and they are there for defence purposes."

Mr Liu also warned against "external interference" in internal Chinese affairs, singling out Britain and the United States.

Protesters had spray-painted the English word "freedom" in cursive letters on a walkway, where a discarded piece of clothing lay after some protesters had changed their black attire and made a dash for escape.

Many were arrested by riot police who dragged those they caught along a footbridge, striking out with batons and, in incidents filmed and shared on social media, appearing to stamp on the necks of some prone protesters.


What began as an energetic, well-supplied and tightly organised campus occupation - with a stocked and staffed canteen, yoga mats and blankets to sleep on, and a defiant spirit of volunteerism - gave way to despair as the siege wore on.

Facing arrest or a crackdown and with nowhere to go, the mood among protesters inside the campus was increasingly desolate as night fell yesterday.

Some slumped on chairs, exhausted from two days of running battles. Others cried, consoled by friends.

"There is no way we can get out of the university safely now," said one 19-year-old, without giving a name.

Calls were made on phones with depleted batteries throughout the day to family, friends and lawyers. One man sitting alone in a canteen broke off from his lunch and sobbed.

The stakes for those inside are high.

Police, who have declared the scene a riot zone, yesterday reiterated their threat to charge anyone found inside without good reason with rioting - which can carry up to 10 years in jail.

Local police Commander Cheuk Hau Yip urged protesters to surrender and face the law, warning police would use live rounds if confronted with dangerous weapons.

"Don't press our bottom line," he said yesterday. - AFP