June 10 (UPI) — Chinese state media is claiming protesters in Hong Kong are “in conspiracy with the West” after organizers said about 1 million citizens gathered on Sunday to oppose a new extradition amendment.
Beijing’s state tabloid Global Times said Monday “radical forces” are opposing a proposed law that could allow authorities in Hong Kong to extradite people to mainland China, and that the activists are engaged in a conspiracy.
The Global Times claimed the activists traveled to the United States, Britain, Canada and Germany in March and May. With the help of “foreign intervention,” the activists “recruited citizens” to march against the law.
The Chinese newspaper blamed the United States and accused the protesters of being a “puppet of the United States” in a time of trade disputes between the two of the world’s largest economies.
China Daily also said “foreign powers” are seeking to harm China by wreaking havoc in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong citizens are worried about the law, the latest sign the special administrative region is increasingly losing its autonomy. Pro-Beijing politicians on the island say the reforms are to prevent the city from becoming a sanctuary for fugitives, although current laws allow extradition of suspects accused of financial crimes or corruption.
Opponents to the amendment fear China could use the law to extradite dissidents, including human rights activists.
Protesters told the South China Morning Post they marched because of perceptions the rally might be their last chance to show Hong Kong wishes to remain free from mainland intervention.
Hong Kong is different from China, they said.
Activists in 27 cities around the world also gathered on Sunday to show their support for the protests.
In 2003, protesters were able to indefinitely postpone a national security bill that would have banned political activities of foreign organizations.
Organizers over the weekend said 1.03 million protesters gathered at rallies, but police said they estimate 240,000 people assembled to show their opposition.