"The end is coming for those attempting to disrupt Hong Kong and antagonise China," the state-controlled news agency Xinhua declared overnight.

It's just the latest in a series of harshly worded threats issued by Beijing against the ongoing anti-government protests. But it could signal Chairman Xi Jinping is losing patience with the upstart former British colony.

October 1 represents the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Firemen try to douse fire after protesters set fire to barricades and vandalised signages at Tung Chung near airport in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
Firemen try to douse fire after protesters set fire to barricades and vandalised signages at Tung Chung near airport in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

Massive national celebrations are planned to praise the Communist Party's authoritarian rule. And the party's censors have been active on social media and at public gatherings, ready to squash any sign of discontent.

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Chairman-for-life Xi is on increasingly shaky ground. China's economy is straining under the weight of slowed economic growth, espionage scandals, an ageing population and a trade war with the US.

Now, Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters threaten to mar what Xi considers to be a day of near-religious significance.

Do the fighting words being broadcast by Beijing's state media mean he's not prepared to tolerate such a loss of face? Will October 1 be the line in the sand that defines the future of Hong Kong?

'THE END IS COMING'

"Faced with the central government's resolute support for the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) government and the Hong Kong police, faced with the HKSAR government's firm and just law enforcement, faced with strong condemnation from Chinese people, the end is coming for those attempting to disrupt Hong Kong and antagonise China," the Xinhua editorial warns.

Weekend demonstrations were among the most intense experienced since they began in June. Protests have escalated far beyond the controversial criminal extradition law that sparked the movement.

Now Hong Kong's residents are marching against the very idea of Communist Party rule that Chairman Xi is about to celebrate.

"Behind the violence and chaos in Hong Kong is an elaborate scheme of the rioters and their patrons whose real intent is clearly exposed now," Xinhua states. "They tried to stir up unrest in Hong Kong and compromise the one country, two systems principle before spreading the 'colour revolution' into the Chinese mainland."

Secondary students wear face masks during a school strike in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
Secondary students wear face masks during a school strike in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

The CCP is painting the protests as being a foreign-power generated threat and a "colour revolution" of the like experienced in Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East a decade ago.

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It was a sentiment echoed at a Communist Party gathering in Shenzhen last week. The state-approved head of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies warned the confrontation was "a decisive battle between defending or destroying one country, two systems".

DAY OF INFAMY

"I have to say intervention by China is looking more likely, especially after October 1," Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Dr Malcolm Davis says. "President Xi cannot afford to have the prospect of a bloody crackdown in Hong Kong marring those celebrations."

In China, October 1 is usually marked by fireworks and parades of troops. This year, the sight of both could become far more ominous.

Chairman Xi is under siege. His regime has been repeatedly embarrassed by unfavourable rulings under international law, by trade wars, debt-trap scandals and technological espionage.

So the pushback against his authoritarian style of government in Hong Kong could not have come at a more inconvenient time.

Secondary students sit on the ground during a protest at Admiralty in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
Secondary students sit on the ground during a protest at Admiralty in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

The protests began shortly after the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4. Now the October 1 celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic looms.

Hong Kong standing its ground against Beijing's repressive regime is not a message the Communist Party wants its tightly controlled populace to hear. Worse, it could be a sign of things to come elsewhere across the vast country.

So, once the hallowed day of October 1 has passed, Chairman Xi may no longer feel restrained.

The question the world's international affairs experts are asking is: How will he deal with such an audacious rejection of his rule?

A massacre on the scale of Tiananmen Square would do China irreparable economic and diplomatic harm. But such fallout may not register on the mind of an autocrat struggling to maintain his grip on power.

ECHOES OF TIANANMEN

When protesters first began to spill into the streets, they were met with quiet approval for their audacity and idealism in confronting the Chinese Communist Party.

Protests were civil and peaceful. Their message was clear.

Their numbers grew and grew.

They were denounced as unpatriotic. As criminals. Of being foreign agents.

The Communist Party leadership was incensed that commoners such as these would dare defy their rule. So, seven weeks into the protests, Chairman Deng Xiaoping sent in the tanks.

The parallels between Tiananmen Square and Hong Kong are apparent.

The initially peaceful marches were denounced as "riots".

Since then, both the rhetoric and the protests have only escalated.

Now protesters are labelled terrorists, insurgents — separatists.

Police detain a protester, centre, after he blocked train door at a subway station in Hong Kong. Photo / AP
Police detain a protester, centre, after he blocked train door at a subway station in Hong Kong. Photo / AP

And, while the extradition bill that sparked the protests has been temporarily withdrawn, more and more Hong Kong citizens keep pouring on to the streets.

As with Tiananmen, the failure to quash an expression of mass discontent makes the Communist Party feel vulnerable. Now, as then, Beijing may consider it has little alternative other than violence to end the insubordination.

POINT OF NO RETURN

The latest threats out of Beijing come after armoured personnel carriers crossed into Hong Kong and the Shenzhen conference declared Chairman Xi had the right to send in troops.

Last night's Xinhua warning was specific in defining three boundaries the Communist Party intends to enforce:

• "No one should harm (China's) national sovereignty and security;

• "No one should challenge the power of the central authorities and the authority of the Basic Law of the HKSAR;

• "No one should use Hong Kong to infiltrate and undermine the mainland."

Pro-democracy protesters and their supporters are being painted as having crossed all three lines.

"Anyone who dares to infringe upon these bottom lines and interfere in or damage the 'one country, two systems' principle will face nothing but failure and will be held accountable by the country's constitution and the HKSAR's Basic Law," the state-approved editorial reads.

The editor of the Communist Party's tabloid Global Times last week warned of "catastrophic" consequences if the city became a battleground between Beijing and Washington. He accused the US and other Western nations of "aiding and abetting" Hong Kong dissidents.

"Hong Kong should take the advantages offered by 'one country, two systems' and enjoy the best of both worlds. If it becomes a battleground of the two worlds, it will not end well."