Chinese public security minister Zhao Kezhi said China would rigorously fend off all subversive and terrorist activities to ensure the security and stability of the country, as protests threaten Beijing's hold on the semi-autonomous territory.

Protesters use bamboo sticks as they face riot police during a protest in Hong Kong. August 25, 2019.
Protesters use bamboo sticks as they face riot police during a protest in Hong Kong. August 25, 2019. (AP)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that she had met with a group of young people about the pro-democracy protests gripping the city, but she showed no sign of budging in a continuing stalemate over the movement's demands. 

It wasn't clear who attended the Monday meeting with Lam, who was accompanied by the education and home affairs ministers. 

Lam said she explained the government's position on the demands at the Monday meeting, which was closed-door and unannounced. 

She disputed complaints that her government is ignoring the protesters, whose demands include the withdrawal of an extradition bill, an independent enquiry into what they believe is excessive use of force by police to quell the demonstrations, and democratic elections.

"It is not a question of not responding," she told reporters before a weekly meeting with her executive council. "It is a question of not accepting those demands."

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, has seen more than two months of youth-led protests that have often ended in clashes with police. 

The government said on Monday illegal violence was pushing Hong Kong to the brink of great danger after weekend clashes that included the first gun-shot and the arrest of 86 people, the youngest just 12.

They built barriers across the roads and threw bricks and gasoline bombs to try to block the police advance.

Lam announced last week that she is creating a platform for dialogue and said Tuesday that it would include protesters. Protesters and opposition lawmakers have questioned the sincerity of her initiative, calling it a delay tactic.

The South China Morning Post newspaper, citing an unnamed source, said about 20 people took part and that they were mostly in their 20s and 30s.

Lam said her government had accepted the movement's main demand by suspending the extradition bill, but protesters want it formally withdrawn.

Not all the protesters resort to confrontation with police, but those that do say it is needed to get the government to respond.

Lam said it would be unacceptable for the government to accede to demands because of such pressure.

"If violence continues, the only thing that we should do is to stamp out that violence through law enforcement actions," she said.

She also dismissed any suggestion of her resignation, saying a responsible chief executive should continue "to hold the fort and do her utmost to restore law and order in Hong Kong."

G7 shouldn't 'meddle'

The leaders of the G-7 nations, meeting in France, called Monday for the avoidance of violence in Hong Kong and affirmed the importance of a 1984 Sino-British agreement that gives the city a high degree of autonomy in its affairs.

The former British colony was returned to China in 1997, but many Hong Kongers say the promises made to them are being eroded by Beijing.

"We expressed, collectively, deep concern about what is happening in Hong Kong," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, adding that "we remain collectively committed to the 'one country, two systems' framework."

Beijing on Tuesday voiced "strong dissatisfaction" with the statement by the G7 leaders.

Beijing has accused foreign governments of interfering over Hong Kong, and foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the G7 was "meddling" and "harbouring evil intentions".

"We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the statement made by the leaders of the G7 Summit on Hong Kong affairs," Geng said at a press briefing in Beijing.

"We have repeatedly stressed that Hong Kong's affairs are purely China's internal affairs and that no foreign government, organisation or individual has the right to intervene."

Joel Flynn reports.

China's public security minister, Zhao Kezhi, visiting Guangdong province near Hong Kong, said China will crack down on violent terrorist activities and firmly safeguard its political security.

Zhao, in a statement issued by his ministry, was quoted as saying China would rigorously fend off and crack down on all subversive and terrorist activities to ensure the security and stability of the country.

The Chinese-ruled city is grappling with its biggest political crisis since its handover to Beijing in 1997 and Communist Party authorities have sent a clear warning that forceful intervention is possible to quell the violence.

More demonstrations are planned over coming days and weeks, posing a direct challenge to authorities in Beijing, who are eager to quell the unrest ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1.

The unrest escalated in mid-June over a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong people to be sent to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

But the demonstrations have evolved over 12 straight weeks into a broad demand for greater democracy under the "one country, two systems" formula following the handover to China by colonial ruler Britain in 1997.

The protests come as Hong Kong is facing its first recession in a decade, with all its growth pillars under significant stress. Rating agencies have raised long-term questions over the quality of the city's governance.

The unrest has sent jitters across the Asian financial centre, prompting some Hong Kong tycoons to start moving personal wealth offshore and residents to look for homes elsewhere.

Jamie Mi, a partner at Melbourne-based Kay & Burton, said the real estate agency was receiving about one-third more enquiries from Hong Kong buyers than usual, with most buyers targeting high-end properties priced above $3.4 million., China's largest international property website, recorded a 50 percent increase in Hong Kong enquiries for Australian properties in the past quarter.

Source: Reuters