After the violent clashes following a general strike in Hong Kong, the Chinese government has warned the protest movement in the financial capital of a further escalation. "Those who play with fire are killed," said Yang Guang, spokesman for the State Council's Chinese Special Administrative Region office in Hong Kong and Macau.

The demonstrators in Hong Kong called Yang a "criminal." Directly addressed to her, he said: "This is a message to all criminals: Do not hold our reserve for weakness, never underestimate the firm determination and enormous strengthening of central government to maintain stability." The "radical protests" had pushed Hong Kong to the edge of a "dangerous abyss".

China does not rule out deployment of his army

Yang's remarks are the Chinese government's most explicit warnings to the demonstrators so far. Responding to questions about a possible deployment of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Yang said the Hong Kong government was "fully capable of restoring order and stability."

China also warned US politicians against interference and urged them to stop immediately negotiating with Hong Kong separatists. The city belongs to China, said the Hong Kong Foreign Ministry. The People's Republic would resolutely respond to any measures that damaged the country's sovereignty.

The general strike on Monday had largely paralyzed life in the financial metropolis. As has happened several times in recent weeks, the protests have turned into violence in places. Protesters attacked several police stations and a police-occupied building with stones and eggs. According to the Hong Kong police, 148 people were arrested in connection with the strike. Hong Kong Prime Minister Carrie Lam accused the protesters of "destroying Hong Kong."

First time press conference of leading demonstrators

Now representatives of the protest movement turned to the public with a press conference - for the first time since the beginning of the protests. Three masked demonstrators reaffirmed their call for "democracy, freedom and equality". They called on the government "to return power to the people and to respond to Hong Kong demands."

The protests, which have lasted for two months, were originally triggered by a law on extradition allowing the transfer of suspects to mainland China. Prime Minister Lam has meanwhile declared the law dead. The protests then expanded into a move against Beijing's growing influence in Hong Kong. The demonstrators call for the resignation of Prime Minister Lam and far-reaching reforms.

Since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the former British Crown Colony is governed as a separate autonomous territory on the principle of "one country, two systems". Fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of the press should be respected for at least 50 years. The opposition movement accuses the central government in Beijing of increasingly undermining the scheme, with the help of a government that it has clashed with. Above all, Carrie Lam is considered an ally of the KP state power in Beijing.