A Beijing-based expert on Hong Kong affairs has warned that the city risks "losing everything" if the unrest that has rocked it since June does not abate, adding that adherence to the rule of law remains its best hope for a solution to the crisis.
If the protests go unchecked, Hong Kong's rule of law might even be in jeopardy, Wang Zhenmin, a former director of the legal affairs at the central government's Hong Kong liaison office, was quoted as saying on Tuesday by Xinhua.
Wang, who now works as the director of the Centre for Hong Kong and Macau Research at Tsinghua University in Beijing, was speaking on a visit to Geneva to attend a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
He is the latest academic to be rolled out to defend Beijing's and the Hong Kong government's handling of the three-month protest, which was triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
Last week, Hong Kong businesswomen Pansy Ho Chiu-king and Annie Wu Suk-ching spoke to the same UN council about their views on the political crisis in the city. They both criticised the protesters for the damage caused and said their demands were not in the public interest.
Wang described the situation as "extremely critical and worrying", Xinhua said.
"To resolve the current chaos in Hong Kong, (we must) make good use of ideas and means that are (rooted in) the rule of law," he said.
"The mass protests in Hong Kong have presented huge problems to the police as (the protesters) took it as nothing to break the law and that has presented immense challenges."
Wang also supported the city's police in rejecting claims they have used excessive force against the protesters.
"(Such criticism) was completely mixing cause and effect and reversing black and white. For three months, the protesters have made repeated and mass attacks (against the police) and their methods have become increasingly violent," he said.
"This was why the police have resorted to the use of appropriate force to put a stop to the attacks by the rioters, to protect the innocent citizens and public properties and facilities."
Wang denied that human rights or freedom were the issues at stake and put the blame on the protesters.
"The protesters would not even tolerate anyone who may disagree with them and would attack anyone who may have made patriotic comments or supporting the police," he said.
"This is not about human rights at all but a violation of the freedom of expression and human rights of other people."
Despite his criticism, Wang made clear that Beijing was committed to the "one country, two systems" formula - a model of governance that was designed to allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy in governing its own affairs.
"There is no other country in the world than China that is more committed in ensuring 'one country, two systems' to be successful in Hong Kong," he said.
"This not only serves the interests of Hong Kong but also those of China as well as other relevant countries."
Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.