, HONG KONG, Oct 19 – Hong Kong’s embattled leader on Sunday said “foreign forces” were at work in the pro-democracy movement that has paralysed parts of the city, as demonstrators accused police of using excessive violence during ugly clashes.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said “external forces” from other countries had been encouraging the mass sit-ins that have blocked major thoroughfares for three weeks, 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 on Sunday night.
Chinese state media have repeatedly alleged that “anti-China forces” such as the United States are manipulating the protesters, and Beijing has warned against foreign meddling in what it says is an internal affair.
The rallies come as one of the biggest challenges to Beijing’s authority since the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests of 1989.
Leung, described by demonstrators as a pro-Beijing stooge and facing calls for his resignation, said protests had got “out of hand”, and called for “a peaceful and a meaningful end to this problem”.
He spoke as protest leaders blasted Hong Kong’s police force over violent clashes that broke out in the Mongkok district early Sunday, with 20 people injured as officers struck surging crowds with batons.