China’s minister for public security has thrown his support behind Hong Kong’s new police chief, saying he hoped Chris Tang Ping-keung would lead the force with determination and maintain its morale with the goal of “curbing violence” in the city as soon as possible. Zhao Kezhi, who met Tang in Beijing on Friday, said the central government was giving the “strongest backing” to the force as the ongoing social unrest reaches its sixth month. He heaped praise on the force, saying it has been loyal and responsible during the exceptional challenge, and had safeguarded national security and the principle of “one country, two systems”, the framework under which Beijing governs Hong Kong. Zhao’s comments came as Tang appealed to protesters joining a mass rally approved for Sunday to reject violence as he called on organisers to be proactive in condemning disorder if it breaks out. Police have signed off a march and rally organised by the Civil Human Rights Front – which was behind the city’s largest anti-government demonstrations – for the first time since August. Tang, who was promoted to police commissioner last month, was expected to be in charge of operations on Sunday following his scheduled return that morning from his first official trip to Beijing. Before leaving Hong Kong on Friday morning, he warned that the force would intervene if protesters ignored his pleas for a “peaceful and orderly” demonstration this weekend. The mass rally and march on Sunday is the first organised by the front to secure permission from police since August 18. The force has rejected several applications in recent months for the pro-democracy group’s events, on the grounds of public safety and the risk of violence. “Police have rarely objected to public rallies since the handover of Hong Kong [in 1997]. But since June, whenever there have been large-scale public order events, there were violent protesters or mobs hijacking [the protests] and committing illegal acts,” said Tang, who pointed to the hurling of petrol bombs, blocking roads and arson as examples of criminality. Major anti-government rally and march get Hong Kong police permission “We hope the violent groups can stop for a while, and stop their illegal acts, while our fellow citizens are catching their breath. “And I hope the marchers can show the whole city, or the whole world, that we are able to participate in a rally peacefully and orderly.” He said while Hong Kong had been “relatively peaceful” over the past two weeks, radicals reappeared last Sunday to cause mayhem, in reference to an approved march from Tsim Sha Tsui to Hung Hom that descended into chaos . Tang warned police would step in if there was violence. He appealed to the front to assist and cooperate with officers on Sunday, adding: “I hope they will be courageous and condemn violent acts, if they happen.” The march is due to set off from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 3pm, ending in Chater Road, Central. Hospital chief urges greater powers for Hong Kong protest probe It was approved with conditions on Thursday, including that police will stop the march if public order is under threat. The pro-democracy group, led by Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit , has been behind some of the biggest protests since the political crisis began in June, including one on June 16 which drew an estimated 2 million people. Sham, convener of the front, challenged Tang to “set a good example” and condemned police officers who used excessive force against protesters. “We cannot ignore the violence from the bullies and condemn the force used by those fighting back,” Sham said. “When people in power are sanctioned, we will definitely take a hard look at the shortcomings in protesters’ actions. He also said most Hongkongers were against violence but some were forced to retaliate in the face of suppression. Tang was also expected to meet Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council, on Saturday. Tang said officials would be briefed on the latest crime situation in Hong Kong, and matters relating to policing issues of “mutual interest” would also be discussed, without elaborating. China has its own Hong Kong protest game that lets you beat up activists In a statement issued on Friday night, the government expressed regret that some “irresponsible” lawmakers and political figures had “wantonly” smeared Hong Kong’s reputation by spreading untrue claims that freedom was suppressed in the city. “These politicians must bear responsibility for society descending into chaos,” it said. Hong Kong has been racked by nearly six months of anti-government protests , which have often descended into violence and paralysed the city’s transport system. What started out earlier this year as peaceful protests triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill have developed into a wider anti-government movement, with increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters, as well as among residents.