China strongly backed the Hong Kong government Monday on a controversial bill that would allow extraditions to the mainland, and voiced opposition to "outside interference" following a massive protest against the legislation. Organizers said more than a million people marched against the law, bringing central Hong Kong to a standstill at the weekend as the semi-autonomous city's pro-Beijing government battles a major political crisis.
Beijing was unmoved by the protest, with foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying it "will continue to firmly support" the Hong Kong administration. "Second, we firmly oppose any outside interference in the legislative affairs" of the city, he said at a regular press briefing, adding that "some countries have made some irresponsible remarks about the amendment."
Chinese state-run media earlier slammed the Hong Kong protest organizers for "collusion with the West," and pointed to meetings between Hong Kong opposition figures and senior U.S. officials. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader yesterday refused to scrap a controversial plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland. Striking a defiant tone after the city's largest protest since the 1997 handover, chief executive Carrie Lam said the legislature would debate the bill today as planned, rejecting calls to delay or withdraw the law. Sunday's demonstration was mostly peaceful, though there were some late-night clashes between some remaining protesters and police. Three officers and one journalist were injured, according to Hong Kong media reports.