China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has said “no force” from the West can stop the country from “striding towards modernisation”.
“Any attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs or hold back China’s development will be crushed by the wheels of history,” he said.
He went on to say Beijing firmly supports the Hong Kong government “in ending violence and chaos”, and said: “Time will prove that ‘One Country, Two Systems’ not only works and works well in Hong Kong, but also has the support of the people there.”
Mr Wang’s comments come as a fresh wave of protests filled malls in Hong Kong on Christmas Eve, with heavy police presence in the Tsim Sha Tsui district of Kowloon.
Protesters demonstrating inside the malls had thrown umbrellas and other projectiles at police, who reportedly responded by beating some demonstrators with batons and launching tear gas.
Scores of black clad, mask-wearing protesters chanted slogans including “Revive Hong Kong, revolution of our time” and “Hong Kong independence”.
Police have arrested over 6,000 people since protests escalated in June, including a large number during a violent siege at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in mid-November.
Of Xinjiang, Mr Wang insisted China has “ensured the safety and well-being of over 24 million fellow countrymen of different ethnic groups there” while halting terrorism.
“Our de-radicalisation efforts have responded well to the call of the UN and are becoming an important part of the global fight against terrorism,” he said.
The detainment of at least one million Uighur Muslims and other religious minorities in Xinjiang has earned China criticism from the UN and the international community, who say it is an abuse of human rights.
The UN said China’s counter-terrorism law was being used to justify the repression of Muslims living in the region.
In the interview, Mr Wang also commented on China-US diplomatic relations and referred to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, which China claims vast swathes of.
He said: “Regrettably… the US has taken a string of actions to obstruct and repress China in trade, science and technology, and has been meddling in a series of issues concerning China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and smearing China.
“No one, and no force, can stop the historic march of the 1.4 billion Chinese people towards modernisation,” he added.
According to Mr Wang, cooperation is the only way for China-US relations to improve and move forward, not confrontation.
“It is our hope that the US side will return to a fact-based and correct perception of China and a sensible and pragmatic policy towards China.”
Additional reporting by agencies