Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday warned those attempting to divide China, saying they will end up with “bodies smashed and bones ground to powder”. Although the president did not specify what he was referring to, it was viewed as a warning to the ongoing pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, BBC reported.

“Anyone who attempts to split any region from China will perish, with their bodies smashed and bones ground to powder,” the Chinese president said during a visit to Nepal. “Any external forces that support the splitting of China can only be regarded as delusional by the Chinese people.”

China has blamed external forces for being behind the protests in Hong Kong, which began four months ago. The country has also accused the United States and the United Kingdom of interfering in its domestic matters. The Chinese president has not directly addressed the situation in Hong Kong yet.

The demonstrations in Hong Kong had started as opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill and has grown into a pro-democracy movement. Protestors have accused China of tightening its grip on the region and throttling democracy. Police in Hong Kong have allegedly used extensive force to control the protestors with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons.

Last week, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she might call upon China to tackle the demonstrators if the “situation becomes so bad”. On October 4, Lam had invoked emergency powers for the first time in more than 50 years to outlaw face masks. Protestors have used masks to protect their identities during demonstrations, and tens of thousands took to the streets wearing masks in defiance.

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