“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 protest against the bill descended into running clashes between police and protesters.
Hundreds of thousands had jammed Hong Kong’s streets earlier on Sunday to protest against the bill in the biggest demonstration in years. Many said they feared the bill put the city’s vaunted legal independence at risk.
Organisers said there were more than a million protesters, although police put the number at about 240,000.
The China Daily said in an editorial the bill 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 (SAR)had been misled about the changes proposed in the bill, while others were trying to promote a political agenda, the English-language publication said.
“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,” the China Daily said.
It did not say who those foreign forces might be.