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Beijing says it backs Hong Kong's leader despite public demands for her resignation

Key Points
  • Demonstrators in Hong Kong are continuing their protests for full democracy and autonomy in the city, clashing with authorities over the weekend.
  • China's Hong Kong Affairs Office says the recent string of events "has gone far beyond the scope of peaceful march and demonstration."
  • Beijing reiterates its support for under-fire Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the "one country, two systems" principle that allows Hong Kong some legal and economic autonomy.
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Hong Kong protests escalate as China confirms support for city's leader

China said Monday the recent string of protests in Hong Kong "has gone far beyond the scope of peaceful march and demonstration." Still, the country's central government said that it continues to support the city's under-fire chief executive and the notion of Hong Kong's semi-autonomy.

A statement from the country's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office distributed to the press in Beijing on Monday said the demonstrations have undermined the rule of law and the stability of "one country, two systems." That concept was promised to Hong Kong when the former British colony was reunited with the mainland, and guarantees that the city maintains a separate economic and legal system.

A spokesperson for the office called the recent series of violent clashes "horrendous incidents" that have damaged the rule of law, public order, economy and people's lives in the city. He said at a Monday press conference that some forces with ulterior motives have stoked panic in the city, according to Reuters.

The demonstrations in Hong Kong started in early June against a legislative push to allow people in Hong Kong to be transferred to mainland China. They have since snowballed into a movement for full democracy and autonomy from Beijing.

The office called on people in Hong Kong to oppose and resist violence, according to the distributed statement. Citing the importance of a healthy business environment for Hong Kong's economy prosperity, it said, "We must not sit idly by and let a small number of people trample on this important value."

The Beijing statement said, "We hope that Hong Kong will get over the political contentions as soon as possible and instead concentrate on developing its economy and improving people's livelihood." Emphasizing that the Hong Kong government and society should come up with more effective measures to help address housing, employment and other social issues.

Chinese authorities have also reiterated their firm support for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the Hong Kong Police, silencing rumors of an impending resignation.

The statement added that the central government offers "full support" for Lam and believes she can "govern, develop and manage Hong Kong well."

The statement ended with, "The ship of 'one country, two systems,' will surely sail far and steady despite winds and storms," suggesting there would not be a change in Beijing's management of Hong Kong in the near future.

There has been a public outcry for Lam's resignation over the handling of the Hong Kong protests since she claimed to have proposed the controversial extradition bill.

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng and Reuters contributed to this report.