China Warns U.S. Will 'Pay a Heavy Price' If It Helps Hong Kong Protesters Following Mass Appeals at Consulates

A Chinese government newspaper has warned that neither the U.S. nor the U.K. will be allowed to interfere in the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong, after demonstrators staged fresh protests calling for greater international backing.

This weekend's action was the 15th consecutive weekend of demonstrations by anti-government protesters in the semi-autonomous territory. What started as an uprising against a controversial extradition bill has evolved into a wider anti-Beijing movement, with activists calling for an end to China's legal and political encroachment on the former British colony.

The protests have become increasingly violent in recent weeks, with police now routinely turning to batons, rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to disperse crowds. Protesters have armed themselves with shields, helmets, rudimentary weapons and even Molotov cocktails.

The U.S. and U.K. consulates have become a center for the demonstrations in recent weeks. Waving American and British flags, tens of thousands of people have swamped the streets around the facilities to call for Washington and London to do more to censure Beijing and the Hong Kong government for their violent efforts to suppress the demonstrations.

Some protesters have carried placards urging American lawmakers to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would give the U.S. greater means to defend Hong Kong's freedom and autonomy. Such efforts prompted disquiet in China, where the Communist Party has said the unrest is a domestic issue and that international rivals should not get involved.

An editorial in the China Daily newspaper—owned by the Beijing government's propaganda department—said the consulate protests showed that the activists "are nearing their wit's end."

"Isolated, they have no choice but to turn to their former colonial masters and the self-proclaimed defender of freedom in search of something more than 'moral support,'" the article declared.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would allow sanctions to be imposed on individual Hong Kong and Chinese officials believed to be undermining the autonomy of the territory and abusing the "one country, two systems" agreement—in place since the region was handed from British to Chinese control in 1997.

The legislation would also require an annual assessment of the territory's autonomy to decide whether Hong Kong retains preferential trade treatment under U.S. law.

Last week, famed pro-democracy campaigner Joshua Wong—who was jailed for his role in the 2014 Umbrella Movement—met with U.S. lawmakers to lobby for the legislation. So far, at least 16 senators and 25 representatives from both sides of the aisle have signed on as co-sponsors, NBC News reported.

"It seems the U.S.—along with its 'all-weather friend' across the Atlantic, which cannot even manage to clear the Brexit mess of its own making—is hell-bent on doing something stupid, as usual, given the way it has rolled out the red carpet for secessionist Joshua Wong in New York and Washington," the China Daily editorial said.

The article warned that neither country has the right "to interfere in China's internal affairs, and more important, China will never allow them to do so."

"If the U.S. lawmakers refuse to see the bigger picture and pass the bill," the article stated, "they would take a perilous step in the wrong direction, for which the U.S. would have to pay a heavy price."

Hong Kong, US, China, protest, extradition bill
A protester holds placards as he takes part in a march to the U.S. consulate during a demonstration on September 8 in Hong Kong, China. Carl Court/Getty Images/Getty