China labels protesters in Hong Kong a 'political virus'

China labels protesters in Hong Kong a 'political virus'
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China's Hong Kong office on Wednesday called the pro-democracy protests that have permeated throughout the semi-autonomous region since 2019 a “political virus," saying there will never be stability amid the ongoing protests.

The office warned that China's central government wouldn't stand for "this recklessly demented force in place,” referring to the protests that have largely been curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic in recent months, Reuters reports.

“The scorched-earth action of the black-clad violent protesters is a political virus in Hong Kong society and a big enemy to ‘one-country-two-systems’,” the office said in a statement.

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“As long as the protesters are not removed, Hong Kong will never be calm,” it added.

The months of protests in 2019 featured black-clad protesters and demonstrations that often became violent, as many in the Asian financial hub called for independence from mainland China.

As Hong Kong and China have slowly recovered from the pandemic, the protests have started again, with Hong Kong authorities dispersing a crowd of 300 pro-democracy demonstrators in late April, according to the wire service.

Authorities reportedly made 15 arrests in April, including several prominent Hong Kong politicians, drawing ire from the U.S. and international rights groups.

In addition to the protests, Hong Kong's economy suffered its largest contraction in the first quarter of this year since 1974, as the pandemic deeply affected the region's businesses.