The Latest: China warns punishment for protests is coming

Protesters flash laser beams onto a man in a residential building as they think he is a pro-Beijing supporter in Hong Kong, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. Droves of protesters filled public parks and squares in several Hong Kong districts on Monday in a general strike staged on a weekday to draw more attention to their demands that the semi-autonomous Chinese city's leader resign.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Protester use a plate to cover a tear gas canister fired by riot police as they face off near the Legislative Council building and the Central Government building in Hong Kong, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019. Droves of protesters filled public parks and squares in several Hong Kong districts on Monday in a general strike staged on a weekday to draw more attention to their demands. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

HONG KONG — The Latest on the protests in Hong Kong (all times local):

3 p.m.

A Chinese official responsible for Hong Kong affairs says punishment for those behind weeks of sometimes violent protests in the Chinese special administrative region is "only a matter of time."

The comments Tuesday by Yang Guang, spokesman for the Chinese Cabinet's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, appear to indicate Beijing will take a hard line against the protests and has no plans to open a dialogue on their demands for political reforms.

Yang singled out "brazen, violent and criminal actors" and the "meddling hands behind the scenes" as the focus law enforcement efforts, saying "as for their punishment, it's only a matter of time."

Yang also called on Hong Kong citizens to turn on the protesters by refusing to accept their promotional materials and opposing disruptions to public transport.

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1 p.m.

Hong Kong protesters have condemned what they call the government's "empty rhetoric" and instances of alleged police abuse in an inaugural "People's Press Conference."

Three protesters who spoke to reporters Tuesday said the briefing was intended to counter the regular government and police news conferences in which authorities have repeatedly decried violent acts by some pro-democracy demonstrators.

An activist using the pseudonym Jerry Chan said some officers have shown "total lack of self-discipline," adding that some tear gas was fired on residential buildings during clashes across several districts Monday.

The protesters apologized for the inconveniences brought on by a general strike Monday that paralyzed regular workday operations in the city. Major roads and public transit lines were blocked, while at least 77 flights out of the airport were cancelled.

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