Beijing’s authority overseeing Hong Kong affairs has condemned the violence of protesters who stormed and vandalised the Legislative Council and called on the government to restore social order as soon as possible. The State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, along with Beijing’s liaison office in the city, joined the pro-establishment camp in condemning Monday’s violence, even as pro-democracy groups and opposition lawmakers struck a softer tone, saying the government was also to blame for its poor handling of the crisis surrounding a now-suspended extradition bill. Embattled government officials emerged early on Tuesday, condemning the takeover of the city’s legislature. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she was “outraged and distressed” by the violence and anarchy. Outside the political sphere, wider society, including parents, youths, teachers, social workers and the religious sector, was divided, with some decrying the violence while others were more understanding of why protesters resorted to such actions. The protesters had been calling for the government to fully withdraw the bill instead of just suspending it. If passed, the bill would allow the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions with which the city has no extradition deal, including mainland China, where critics say there is no guarantee of a fair trial. In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the storming of the Legco building was an unlawful act that trampled on the city’s rule of law. Geng, asked to respond to US and EU comments on the storming, said it was “extremely hypocritical” for them not to oppose or reprimand violence in Hong Kong. “It is double standards for them to say they advocate the rights of peaceful protests … We all know how police in the US and Europe handle violence and enforce the law,” he said. The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office issued a statement, describing the protesters’ actions as a direct attack on the central government’s “ one country, two systems ” principle for Hong Kong. British PM hopeful Hunt urges Xi to keep Hong Kong’s freedoms It expressed support to the Hong Kong government and police in taking action and bringing those responsible to justice and urged the government to “restore social order as soon as possible”. “July 1 was a happy day for people from all walks of life in Hong Kong to commemorate the return of Hong Kong to the motherland. But some extreme radicals have used their opposition to a bill as an excuse to storm the Legco building in an extremely violent manner,” an office spokesman said. It is a blatant challenge to the bottom line of ‘one country, two systems’ State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office “It is a blatant challenge to the bottom line of ‘one country, two systems’. We strongly condemn such acts.” The stance was echoed by Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong. The office expressed “shock, indignation and strong condemnation” over the violence. It called the protesters’ acts “atrocities”. The office also said it would firmly support the Hong Kong government in prosecuting those behind the violent acts, defending the rule of law, prosperity and stability. However, while the two offices’ previous statements on Hong Kong, including ones issued on June 15, mentioned Lam, the city leader’s name did not appear in the latest statements on Tuesday. But Lam’s press conference on Tuesday morning was reported by Xinhua and CCTV. The difference between Occupy and extradition protests? Violence Striking a different tone, pan-democratic lawmakers in a media briefing at Legco on Tuesday countered that Lam had failed to come up with solutions to soothe the public. Claudia Mo Man-ching , a pro-democracy lawmaker, insisted the camp had urged protesters to keep calm, and drop their “martyr mentality”. “I’m sure you would have seen messages online that some are quite willing, they claim, to die for this democracy fight. We need to remind them, it’s not worth it,” Mo said. She continued: “We’ve always said pan-democrats will not distance ourselves from young people. They are just fighting for their future.” But Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of Hong Kong’s largest pro-establishment party, insisted the violence warranted the “most serious levels of condemnation”. “The acts were an insult to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, an insult to Hong Kong’s rule of law,” said Lee, leader of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Liberal Party chairman Tommy Cheung Yu-yan warned that the violent acts could destroy Hong Kong’s reputation as a safe city. “I’ve already had foreign investors calling me about their worries of whether they should continue to invest in Hong Kong or asking if they should pull out under these circumstances,” he said. The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said that it did not condone the violence, and that the recent scenes did not reflect the feelings of most Hongkongers. Trashed Hong Kong legislature out of action for two weeks after violent protests The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association said people had the right to express their views, but violence should not be condoned. Meanwhile, the Law Society of Hong Kong strongly condemned the violent siege of Legco. It said “open defiance of the law” was to be deplored. “There is a line separating the lawful exercise of constitutional rights, as evidenced by recent peaceful demonstrations, from unlawful activity, which is and should be subject to sanctions and constraints,” the society said in a statement. But at least 18 concern groups including ones representing parents, children and youths, teachers, social workers, and the religious and culture sectors, jointly condemned the government, saying its disregard of public opinion was to blame for the protesters’ actions. Rachel Tong Chung-yee, spokeswoman of Parents United, said protesters had given Lam chances, by taking part in demonstrations and staying overnight at Legco in a rational and peaceful manner to seek dialogue. “For example, when a small child is hungry, the first time he will say so, if there is no response after half an hour, he might shout louder,” she said. “After an hour more, he might throw things because he is so hungry. Who is responsible for the youth reaching this stage?” Ho Chi-kwan, convenor of the Umbrella Parents group, noted that while it was not right to damage facilities, it was even worse to hit someone for no reason. She was referring to the police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds into crowds surrounding the legislature on June 12. “Why is the administration not investigating this kind of violence?” she said. Vivian Chan Yin-ha, a member of Anti-Extradition Hunger Strikers and a senior lecturer at Chinese University, pointed to how protesters who had stormed the Taiwanese parliament in 2014 as part of the Sunflower Movement, which successfully blocked a controversial trade services pact with the mainland, were all acquitted. Separately, Chua Hoi-wai, chief executive of the Council of Social Service, said that while the Hong Kong protesters’ actions were debatable, their love for the city was very moving. He said that instead of focusing on condemnation, it was high time for officials to respond to the appeals of the youth. However, Stephen Kai Ping-chung, an officer at the Total Quality Parenting Institute, said he would not condone the protesters’ behaviour. “I respect people having different views, but it is not acceptable when your action is damaging, no matter how good a reason you have behind it,” he said. The Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools’ executive committee also issued a statement strongly condemning the violence. Smashed and ransacked Legco could cost HK$10 million to repair Meanwhile, the council chairmen of the eight public universities and the chairman of the University Grants Committee, which allocates funding to the institutions, issued a joint statement, saying: “Resorting to violence to express opinions is not conducive to solving the problems.” In an email to students, staff and alumni, University of Science and Technology president Wei Shyy said that while violence should be condemned, he believed it was necessary to discuss the cause to address the challenges. The Colloquium of Six Religious Leaders of Hong Kong, which includes the city’s Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist and Muslim chiefs, said people should reject violence and express their views peacefully.