BEIJING – Certain “foreign forces” are trying to hurt China by creating chaos in Hong Kong over an extradition bill that has prompted mass protests in the former British colony, an official Chinese newspaper said on Monday.
Riot police surrounded Hong Kong’s parliament early on Monday after what had been a peaceful million-strong protest against the bill descended into running clashes between police and protesters.
Earlier on Sunday, hundreds of thousands had jammed Hong Kong’s streets to protest the bill in the biggest demonstration in years. Many said they feared it put the city’s vaunted legal independence at risk.
In an editorial, the China Daily said that the law was much needed legislation.
“Any fair-minded person would deem the amendment bill a legitimate, sensible and reasonable piece of legislation that would strengthen Hong Kong’s rule of law and deliver justice,” it said.
“Unfortunately, some Hong Kong residents have been hoodwinked by the opposition camp and their foreign allies into supporting the anti-extradition campaign.”
Some protesters in the Special Administration Region have been misled about the changes proposed in the law, while others are trying to promote “a political agenda,” the English-language publication added.
“They have failed to realise that the opposition camp is using them merely as pawns in its manoeuvres to reap political gains by damaging the SAR government’s credibility and reputation, or that some foreign forces are seizing the opportunity to advance their own strategy to hurt China by trying to create havoc in Hong Kong.”
It did not say who the foreign forces may be.
Foreign governments have expressed concern at the law, warning of the impact on Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial hub, and noting that foreigners wanted in China risk getting ensnared in Hong Kong.
Human rights groups have repeatedly cited the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions, forced confessions and problems accessing lawyers in China.
Hong Kong officials have defended the plans, even as they raised the threshold of extraditable offenses to crimes carrying penalties of seven years or more.