china‘s President Xi Jinping has warned that any attempt to divide China will end in “crushed bodies and shattered bones.” While he didn’t mention any names, the comments, made during a state visit to Nepal, were seen as a warning to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

“And any external forces backing such attempts dividing China will be deemed by the chinese people as pipe-dreaming,” he said, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV.

Peaceful protests in Hong Kong continue but the attention paid to them has waned as the more newsworthy violent protests steal the spotlight. In one demonstration, about 100 people folded paper origami style into cranes and formed a human chain at the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade.

One man commented, “Now [that] the protests are turning violent, with this event I hope to send a positive image to the outside world that Hongkongers are peace lovers.” The peaceful protesters worry that public opinion will turn against the movement if the violence continues much longer.

To date, the only deaths related to the rioting have been suicides with jumping from a building as the most common method used. There have been numerous injuries caused by shootings or thrown projectiles. The most publicized injury this past weekend was a three-inch cut on the neck of a police officer made with a box cutter. The incident resulted in two arrests.

The unrest is now occurring in each of Hong Kong’s 18 districts and the litany of incidents has grown every weekend since the protests began in June. MTR train stations and airports have been shut down after attacks by the rioters. Shopping centers are a favorite target as police will often rush into the mall in reaction causing some innocent shoppers to scream in fear as happened this weekend in one mall.

China's Xi Warns Of 'Crushed Bodies' Amid Escalating Chaos And Violence in Hong Kong Protestors held flashmob gatherings in shopping malls across Hong Kong photo: AFP / Philip FONG

Adding to the chaos is some unwise decisions made by Hong Kong Chief executive Carrie Lam and the government. She could have formally withdrawn the extradition bill, the original demand of the protesters, earlier which might have stopped the protests. She also announced a ban on masks that protesters were using to hide their identity that backfired as protesters defied the mask ban.

Both sides are using more sophisticated tactics. Protesters use a “hit-and-run” strategy that the police counter with fast-moving squads of around 30 tactical unit officers that can react immediately instead of waiting for a full contingent of about 100 officers to arrive.

Police have been successful using plain-clothes officers who are embedded with the protesters, but this has resulted in some repercussions for real and imagined under-cover officers. One man was allegedly beaten by protesters who found a baton in his bag and believed he was an undercover police officer.

Vigilante “justice” is also being carried out by the mobs. Television footage showed two women being separately assaulted and having black paint splashed on their faces as their attackers held up opened umbrellas to hide their actions.

If President Xi Jinping’s warnings become reality it will likely involve the deployment of the People’s Liberation Army with thousands of soldiers to do the work that Carrie Lam, her government and her police force seem unable to do.