The US ramped up the pressure on Hong Kong this week over its handling of anti-government protests that have dragged on for months in the self-governing Chinese territory.

Congress passed two bills aimed at supporting protesters; they include measures that would allow for sanctions against officials responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong. The move infuriated China, which warned of "strong countermeasures" if US President Donald Trump signed off on the bill.

The protests, which began in June, have become progressively violent. The UN human rights office said it was concerned that some demonstrators were resorting to extreme violence, but it has also questioned the use of excessive police force.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also raised concerns over police handling of the crisis.

Victor Gao, vice president of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, says Hong Kong protects the right of people to protest, but that there are criminals among the demonstrators.

"They [the police] have a job to do, they need to do whatever they can, allowed by the law, to bring law and order back to Hong Kong," Gao said.

"Hong Kong police compared with their counterparts in many other cities in the world are very well disciplined, very civilised, if I may use that word. And I don't think they use excessive force," he added.

When asked about China's actions in Xinjiang province, where it is believed up to three million Uighur Muslims have been imprisoned in so-called "reeducation camps", Gao said he supports the government's measures.

"I support all the legal measures adopted by the Chinese government under Chinese law, in order to fight against terrorism," Gao said.

Rights groups say China is conducting a mass, systematic campaign of human rights violations against Xinjiang's Muslims.

This week's headliner is China commentator and former interpreter to President Deng Xiaoping, Victor Gao.

Source: Al Jazeera News