Chief Executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam said Saturday that the government will take the greatest resolve to end violence, after rampant rioters Friday wreaked havoc in various areas of Hong Kong.
Lam said in a video address that Hong Kong witnessed "a very dark night" on Friday and the society was half-paralyzed, describing the extreme acts as "unprecedented and appalling."
Violent and disruptive acts were staged again in Hong Kong on Friday as masked rioters blocked roads, set fires, damaged public facilities, and assaulted police officers and passersby, leaving the transport network paralyzed and forcing numerous shops to close.
"The extreme violence is a clear indication of the widespread danger to public security in Hong Kong," Lam said.
Given the escalating violence recently, the HKSAR government has invoked the power under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance and put in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation. The anti-mask law, designed to end violence and restore order, came into effect on Saturday, Lam said.
The move has received support from 40 Legislative Council members and many chambers of commerce, media outlets and social organizations, she said.
Lam reiterated the legality of the action and said the HKSAR government adopted appropriate measures using the power conferred by the existing law.
Lam urged foreign officials and lawmakers to understand the nature of the violent incidents. "Hong Kong is facing unprecedented violence and the government needs to adopt resolute legal measures to stop violence, restore peace and order, and protect the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents from the threats of rioters." She said anti-mask legislations were also adopted in a number of western countries.
Lam also called on Hong Kong residents to support the HKSAR government in stopping the violence, make a clean break with rioters, and work together to bring back peaceful lives as soon as possible.