China furious at egg protest in Hong Kong

Riot police fired tear gas as thousands of protesters targeted China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong.
Riot police fired tear gas as thousands of protesters targeted China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

China has accused protesters of violence after eggs were thrown at its office in Hong Kong, but hasn't mentioned an attack by armed men on protesters and civilians in the same night.

The official People's Daily newspaper, in a front-page commentary headlined "Central Authority Cannot be Challenged," called the protesters' actions "intolerable."

One group of protesters targeted China's liaison office on Sunday night after more than 100,000 people marched through the city to demand democracy and an investigation into the use of force by police to disperse crowds at earlier protests.

Later, protesters trying to return home were attacked inside a train station by assailants who appeared to target the pro-democracy demonstrators.

Video of the attacks in Yuen Long showed protesters being beaten by men wielding steel pipes and wooden poles. Those under attack retreated into the trains, intimidated by the gangs of men waiting for them outside the turnstiles. The attackers then entered the trains and beat the people inside as they tried to defend themselves with umbrellas.

At least 45 people were injured, of whom 22 remained hospitalised Monday morning, including one man in critical condition, the Hospital Authority said.

Another 14 people were injured as police used tear gas to clear protesters in central Hong Kong. Police said on their official social media accounts that protesters threw bricks and petrol bombs at them and attacked the police headquarters.

The attack on the liaison office touched a raw nerve in China. China's national emblem, which hangs on the front of the building, was splattered with black ink. It was replaced by a new one within hours.

"These acts openly challenged the authority of the central government and touched the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle," the government's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office said in a statement issued Sunday.

A group of pro-China lawmakers held a news conference Monday appealing for a halt to the violence, saying it was a blow to Hong Kong's reputation and is scaring away tourists and investors.

Former security secretary Regina Ip said the police were "overstretched" when asked why it took at least a half-hour for police to arrive at the suburban train station where protesters were attacked.

"The police have been under extreme pressure," she said.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said there was "more than apparent" involvement from the triad, a branch of organised crime in Hong Kong.

"What happened last night doesn't seem accidental in any way," Mo said. "It's all organised."

Australian Associated Press