Chief Executive Carrie Lam has condemned protesters who vandalised the exterior of Beijing's liaison office on Sunday, saying they had challenged the country's sovereignty, breached the bottom line of "One Country, Two Systems", and hurt the feelings of all Chinese people.
She said the entire city had been angered by the action, with eggs thrown at the building and ink splashed over the national emblem.
Lam, flanked by her principal officials, then also condemned the violent attacks in Yuen Long, saying she had instructed Police Commissioner Stephen Lo to find the culprits.
"We absolutely do not condone those kind of attacks," the CE said.
Lam added that violence would not solve any problems and would only lead to more violence, with the whole of Hong Kong's society suffering as a result.
And Lam dismissed what she called “baseless accusations” that police officers had worked with the violent attackers, saying these rumours were aimed at undermining her administration.
Lo, meanwhile, said officers were actively gathering evidence following the attacks in Yuen Long, which saw gangs of men rampage through the district's MTR Station, brutally beating passengers and bystanders.
No arrests have been announced so far over the violence that put dozens of people in hospital.
The police chief defended the delay of more than half an hour before officers entered Yuen Long MTR Station to help the attack victims, saying some officers from the district were helping to deal with protesters on Hong Kong Island.
He added that around the same time, the police were also called to three fights and a fire in the Yuen Long area and this had added to the delay.
The police commissioner was also asked about reports that people who phoned up 999 were hung up on, or were told to stay home if they were scared. He was also pressed on why people in Yuen Long who were seen wearing helmets and holding metal rods were neither searched nor arrested when police arrived.
Lo said he would learn more, and follow up.
Speaking afterwards, the convenor of the Executive Council Bernard Chan also condemned the attacks.
He said attacks on innocent bystanders and commuters in Yuen Long on Sunday evening were unacceptable, and the Hong Kong government and the police force should address the issue immediately.
“There’s no doubt among us, no matter which side you are on… violence is not acceptable by any means,” Chan told the assembled press. “These people should be, if caught, prosecuted according to the law of Hong Kong.”
Chan said there was now an “unnecessary fear” spreading, and the police should take reasonable measures to protect the interests of citizens.
Last updated: 2019-07-22 HKT 17:23