China on Monday slammed violent protesters in Hong Kong who had thrown petrol bombs at police officers and linked them to "terrorism", as Beijing ramps up its rhetoric against pro-democracy demonstrations in the financial hub.
"Hong Kong's radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging," said Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.
"This wantonly tramples on Hong Kong's rule of law and social order," he said at a press briefing in Beijing.
Yang's remarks came a day after thousands of pro-democracy protesters defied warnings from authorities to hit the streets for the 10th weekend in a row.
Hong Kong police fired volleys of tear gas Sunday at protestors after denying their requests for permits to stage a march.
But Yang focused on the violent behavior of a "tiny minority", which he condemned as "a serious challenge to Hong Kong's prosperity and stability."
The two-month crisis, which was triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law, has morphed into a wider movement for democratic reform and a halt to eroding freedoms.
It is the biggest threat to Beijing's rule of the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city since its handover from Britain in 1997 -- and has drawn repeated criticism but no forceful actions yet from the central Chinese government.