Violence during protests in Hong Kong will push the city "down a path of no return," the city's leader Carrie Lam warned on Tuesday.
"Violence, no matter if it's using violence or condoning violence, will push Hong Kong down a path of no return, will plunge Hong Kong society into a very worrying and dangerous situation," Lam said during a press conference.
"The situation in Hong Kong in the past week has made me very worried that we have reached this dangerous situation," she added.
Lam faced combative questioning from reporters who repeatedly interrupted her as she defended the conduct of the city's police after a weekend of often violent confrontations between them and protesters.
She said police faced "extremely difficult circumstances" and were bound by "rigid and stringent guidelines on the appropriate use of force."
And she dodged a question on whether she had the power to end the crisis by granting one of the key demands of the protesters: to fully withdraw a now-suspended bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China.
Pressed on whether her hands were tied by Beijing on the issue, she demurred, insisting the question had been answered in the past.
"I again ask everyone to put aside your differences and calm down."
"Take a minute to think, look at our city, our home, do you all really want to see it pushed into an abyss?" Lam added, appearing on the verge of tears. — Agence France-Presse