The “one country, two systems” principle has been widely recognised as a success for the Chinese city of Hong Kong, said former Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf in an interview.

Noting that Hong Kong has always been part of China, Sharaf said Hong Kong’s return to the motherland in 1997 is critical to its fate, as the “one country, two systems” policy has “maintained the long-term prosperity and stability of the city.”

Commenting on the recent unrest in Hong Kong, Sharaf said “when matters escalated to violence, no doubt hidden hands were behind it,” adding “the people of Hong Kong aren’t violent or provocative by nature.”

He called on the Hong Kong government and residents to bring calm to the city.

The violent protests are not aimed at expressing a difference of opinion but to violate China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong, he said. “Some foreign powers were waiting for a simple crack to work on enlarging it.”

Sharaf described some Western media coverage of the protests as “unfair” and responsible for provoking the riots.

The escalation of the situation is aimed at hindering China’s development and rise in the international arena, especially when many countries and international organisations welcome China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), the former prime minister said.

Sharaf said he believes that countries and international organisations should show their support for China, since the prolonged violence in Hong Kong could hurt China and its friends in the long run.

It’s the right time to stand with China, as “many countries believe that China could create a different world based on a new governance model and usher in a better future for the coming generations,” he said.

Sharaf said support for China means “application of international laws that stipulate non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries.”