HONG KONG (AFP) – A senior pro-China lawmaker Wednesday disputed allegations foreign forces are behind Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest, contradicting claims by the city’s leader and Beijing. Jasper Tsang, the president and speaker of the city’s de facto parliament, said he did not believe foreigners were a driving force behind a month of rallies and roadblocks calling for full democracy in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city.
“I can’t see it happening,” he said in an interview with Cable TV. “Unless you treat foreign diplomats expressing concerns as an intervention by external forces. I think their concerns, raised objectively, were not intended to influence, dominate or instigate any side,” he said.
Parts of the Asian financial hub have been paralysed by the protests calling on Beijing to rescind its insistence that candidates for the city’s next leader be vetted by a loyalist committee before standing for election in 2017.
Beijing has refused to back down over what has become the most serious challenge to Chinese rulers since a crackdown on a pro-democracy movement in 1989 in the nation’s capital.
Embattled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said earlier this month that “external forces” from other countries had been encouraging the mass sit-ins, but refused to identify them.
“I shan’t go into details, but this is not entirely a domestic movement,” he said in a television interview.