BEIJING (AFP) - China on Thursday reiterated that foreign countries should not stoke trouble in Hong Kong after a top US official gave Washington's strongest backing yet to democracy protesters in the Chinese territory.
"Hong Kong affairs belong to China's domestic affairs," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing Thursday, stressing that Beijing is opposed to any external interference.
"We have repeatedly expounded on our solemn position on some foreign individuals' and forces' attempts to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs or even incite or support illegal activities such as Occupy Central," she said.
Hua spoke after Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat for Asia, called for "competitive" 2017 elections in Hong Kong in an appearance before US lawmakers on Wednesday.
"The legitimacy of Hong Kong's chief executive will be greatly enhanced if the promise of universal suffrage is fulfilled," Russel said.
"This means allowing for a competitive election in which a range of candidates with differing policy approaches are given an opportunity to seek the support of eligible Hong Kong voters."
Hua stressed that Hong Kong's continued stability and prosperity were in the interests of both China and other countries. "We hope that relevant countries will match words with deeds, honour their commitment and do more to promote the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong," she said.
US President Barack Obama during a trip to Beijing last month told a joint press conference with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that Washington backed the Hong Kong people's right to peaceful protests, but had no role in them.
Protesters began blocking three major Hong Kong intersections in late September to demand free leadership elections in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, which Britain handed back to Beijing in 1997.
But China insists that candidates for the 2017 leadership vote must be vetted by a loyalist committee, which demonstrators say will ensure the election of a pro-Beijing stooge.
Hong Kong student leaders said Thursday they would decide in the coming days whether to leave protest sites they have occupied for more than two months, following violent clashes.
China earlier refused to allow a group of British MPs into Hong Kong, describing their planned trip to the former colony as "overtly confrontational".