Global Times reporter Fu Guohao was attacked by rioters at the Hong Kong International Airport on August 13. Photo: AFP

Under no circumstance should violence be tolerated anywhere in the world. This is the bottom line of a modern civilized society. As Hong Kong rioters have vented their rage at and attacked innocent people, no excuse can exonerate them for violent crimes. Any attempt, especially by some biased Westerners, to defend them is nothing short of being an accomplice to the violence. 

Fu Guohao, a Global Times reporter, was  seized, detained and brutally assaulted by rioters at the Hong Kong International Airport around midnight Tuesday. Fu was beaten because rioters found a T-shirt with the words, “I love Hong Kong Police,” in his bag. He said, “I support Hong Kong police, you can beat me now,” after being tied up by rioters. He was then set upon and passed out. 

The appalling attack on Fu is a blatant violation of human rights and the rule of law. Such conduct must be severely condemned and punished in accordance with law. However, it’s regretful some Westerners on social media platforms such as Twitter have defended the Hong Kong mobs, citing the “offensive” T-shirt as a pretext to justify the attack. 

Anyhow, is it right to thrash a person simply because he or she has an “I love Hong Kong Police” T-shirt or voices support for the police? The logic of some Westerners who turned a blind eye to the violence is astonishing and absurd. How dare they tolerate such a violent and reprehensible act – hurling insults and thrashing the reporter after tying him up. They are complicit in the violence. 

What have those mobs in black clothes and balaclavas done over the past months since protests broke out in the name of opposing amendments to an extradition bill? They threw Molotov cocktails at the police, paralyzed the subway and Hong Kong International Airport for several days and assaulted a mainland tourist as well as the journalist. A pall of black terror has hung over the normally peaceful city, damaging Hong Kong’s rule of law, public order, disrupting daily life and tarnishing the city’s international image. How can some Westerners still regard the rampage as a quest for democracy? 

Rioters issued an apology on Wednesday for causing disruptions at the Hong Kong airport, amid increasing criticism of violence and chaos they have caused. The rioters claimed violence was an overreaction as months of “peaceful demonstrations” and prolonged resistance frightened and exhausted them. Such an apology, which is a plain lie and an attempt to shirk responsibility, can never be accepted. Criminals should never be dealt with leniency.

There should be zero tolerance for violence, and mobs that engage in vandalism in defiance of law must pay the price. The Hong Kong police should fight them with an iron fist. Curbing violence and restoring order has become the most urgent and crucial task for Hong Kong. With the rampaging rioters having crossed legal and ethical limits, voices that call for a harsh crackdown are rising. What awaits them is the long arm of the law.

Newspaper headline: Violent protesters who defied the law must pay the price