China denounces Hong Kong protests as 'undisguised challenge' to its rule

Police fired pepper spray to disperse the protest ahead of a flag raising ceremony in the city, while demonstrators responded by raising the Hong Kong flag and a black flag at half mast.

"The police are now gathering evidence in the complex", he said.

Protesters want the bills formally withdrawn and Hong Kong's embattled leader, Carrie Lam, to resign.

Pro-democracy politicians and the protest organiser said Ms Lam has ignored the demands of the people and pushed youngsters towards desperation, despite pledging to listen to people's demands.

"We deplore and strongly oppose the relevant country's gross interference in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

It's the latest in a series of protests that have ramped up over a controversial extradition treaty with mainland China that would allow it to try suspected criminals using their own judicial system.

"This is something we should seriously condemn", she said.

State news agency Xinhua wrote an upbeat Chinese-language report about a government-arranged concert in Hong Kong to celebrate the handover anniversary, complete with descriptions of the audience singing the national anthem and how the performers showed their "ardent love of the motherland".

She is now facing her lowest popularity ranking since taking office in 2017, according to a survey by the University of Hong Kong.

China on Tuesday also rebuked Donald Trump for a "gross interference" in Hong Kong's affairs after the U.S. president said protesters who stormed the city's legislature want democracy for the financial hub.

While condemning "violence on all sides", he said the authorities need to "understand the root causes of what happened, which is a deep-seated concern by people in Hong Kong that their basic freedoms are under attack".

A group of protesters smashed a window and stormed Hong Kong's legislative building amid another round of mass demonstrations in the city, where a commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of the orderly return to Chinese rule was replaced by tumultuous scenes of civil disobedience, destruction and the deployment of tear gas. The clashes have embarrassed the central government in Beijing, which continues to back Lam's administration.

The demonstrations in June forced the government to apologise and suspend the planned extradition law, which is now unlikely ever to pass.

Cabestan said Beijing could provide a mix of carrot and sticks - ask the unpopular Carrie Lam to step down and appoint someone else to "lower the temperature", and at the same time pressure the city to prosecute the people who ransacked the legislature.

"This is simply very unfortunate situation that we can not find a way to make the government respond", Fernando Cheung, vice chairman of the pro-democracy Labour Party, told reporters while protesters wrecked the chambers.

The government describes the storming of Parliament as "extreme violence". Police form lines in the building.

The HKSAR government held in the morning a flag raising ceremony and a reception at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

If the principle is to defend the autonomy of Hong Kong and persuade Beijing to treat the special administrative region as a special case, British ministers can not be too heavy handed in how they project their interpretation of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's constitution.

Lam had earlier in the day promised to work harder "to get the pulse of the society".

"It's quite confronting and I think everything is up in the air and no-one knows quite exactly what is going on". Since then, the demonstrators have demanded that the government drop prosecution against arrested protesters and rescind its characterization of the earlier incident as a "riot situation".

Tear gas was sacked at the protesters who chose to stay in the area.

-With assistance from Fion Li, Sophie Kamaruddin, Stuart Biggs, Sebastian Chau, Edith Moy, Natalie Lung, Simon Lee, Bill Faries, Larry Liebert, Dominic Lau, Jon Herskovitz, Qi Ding and Kari Lindberg.

  • Jon Douglas