Carrie Lam said on Monday that anti-government protests and clashes with police over extradition laws have pushed Hong Kong towards a "very dangerous situation."
The pro-Beijing leader also accused protesters of using chaos in the financial hub over the past months as a cover to hide "ulterior motives."
"They say (they) want a revolution and to liberate Hong Kong. These (actions) are already far beyond their original political demands, and challenge our national sovereignty. These illegal actions endanger the 'one country, two systems', and destroy Hong Kong's prosperity," Lam said.
The Chinese-controlled city has been paralyzed by months of anti-government protests in reaction to an extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, with demonstrators demanding Lam's resignation and a permanent withdrawal of the controversial bill.
Moreover, a general strike is underway in Hong Kong amid widespread protests and rallies, which have disrupted businesses, shut down government offices and blocked roads in the Asian financial center.
Official reports state that over 100 flights were cancelled at the city’s airport and rail operators also announced the suspension of services in major districts.
During the morning rush hour, activists descended on key subway stations in Hing Kong and deliberately kept doors open to stop trains from departing, causing long queues and triggering sporadic scuffles between angry commuters and protesters.
Hong Kong police said 44 people were taken into custody and dozens more have already been charged with rioting.
"Such extensive disruptions in the name of certain demands or uncooperative movement has seriously undermined Hong Kong's law and order and are pushing our city, the city that we all love and many of us helped to build, to the verge of a very dangerous situation," Lam said.
The Hong Kong's chief executive added that widespread disruptions and violence were putting the residents "in a state of great anxiety" and she vowed to continue cracking down on the violence and disorder.
"The government will be resolute in maintaining law and order in Hong Kong and restoring confidence," she said.
The violent protests have also taken a toll on Hong Kong's tourism industry, slashing the number of foreign visitors to the city, which is already beset by a struggling economy.
China's official Xinhua news agency said on Sunday that, "the central government will not sit idly by and let this situation continue. We firmly believe that Hong Kong will be able to overcome the difficulties and challenges ahead."
Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997.
Many people in the city have expressed frustration over the latest violence which has disrupted their normal life in the city.
China has said the unrest is being stoked by “radical protesters” who pose an “open challenge to the central government’s authority”.
It has also accused the US and the UK of meddling in Hong Kong’s internal affairs and warned against stirring unrest in the city through making “irresponsible remarks” and encouraging protests.
During the weekend rallies, some protesters vandalized a police station and removed a Chinese flag from its pole while some others waved US and UK flags, urging Washington to act in support of Hong Kong’s unrest.
The US and Britain were among the Western nations who opposed the proposed change in the extradition law.
Source: Press TV