China warns against 'radical forces' in HK
CHINA warned yesterday against "radical forces" in Hong Kong, after police arrested 10 people on suspicion of making explosives ahead of a vote on a controversial political reform package.
The police said one suspect had claimed to be a member of a "radical local group" but would not name the group or specify motives.
The bomb allegations have been met with scepticism by some commentators in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, who questioned the timing of the revelations before the vote expected by Friday.
A senior Chinese official warned democrats to tread a "moderate" path.
"The radical opposition camp has recently resorted to despicable means...and are engaged in extreme violent activities," said Song Ruan, deputy commissioner for Beijing's Foreign Affairs Office in Hong Kong, without specifically referring to the arrests.
"We hope that the moderate pan-democrats will see through the true face of radical forces."
Hong Kong's legislature upped its security yesterday, saying there was "a likelihood of the legislative council complex being stormed by radical groups" in the coming days. Pro-democracy and pro-government groups are due to rally outside today, when the Bill goes for debate.
Mr Song urged lawmakers to pass the proposal, which sets out how Hong Kong will choose its next leader in 2017. Democrats in the city's legislature said they will vote against the plan, denying the two-thirds majority needed to pass it.
Although the proposal will for the first time give all residents the right to vote for the chief executive, it adheres to a Beijing ruling that candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee.
That ruling sparked mass protests late last year by people decrying "fake democracy". Currently, the chief executive is chosen by a 1,200-strong pro-Beijing committee.
China has not made clear what its response will be should the package be vetoed.
"No one knows when the constitutional reform process will be relaunched," said Mr Song. "The prospects for Hong Kong will be very worrying."
The local media named the radical group as the National Independent Party and linked it to a new "localist" pro-democracy movement that is seeking a more independent Hong Kong.