HONG KONG - A Chinese official told foreign media in Hong Kong on Wednesday that China has seen interference in the city's pro-democracy protests from outside forces and called on international journalists to report "objectively".
"Since the occurrence of this event, from the statements and the rhetoric and the behaviour of the outside forces of political figures, of some parliamentarians and individual media, I think such a kind of interference certainly exists," the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
It was the first time since the demonstrations, which China and the Hong Kong government have called illegal, that an official from the central government has met foreign media in Hong Kong and made such a request.
Hong Kong, governed under a "one country, two systems" model, is supposed to have a high degree of autonomy, including freedom of the press and speech, though rights and media groups have warned in recent years the situation had worsened.
"We hope the outside world will respect one country, two systems, will respect the Hong Kong SAR government to deal with the situation in accordance with the law and does not send any wrong signal to this unlawful activity," the official added.
Hong Kong is officially a Special Administrative Region of China.
"I've also noticed that media, most of them, have been trying to make balanced and objective reporting. I hope you will continue and sustain this momentum of making objective and fair reports."
Earlier in the day, Hong Kong authorities said police involved in the beating of a pro-democracy protester would be removed from their positions after footage of the overnight incident went viral, sparking outrage from some lawmakers and the public.
The Chinese official said the measures taken by Hong Kong police were "necessary, reasonable and lawful", and made reference to the force New York police have used in dealing with Occupy Wall Street protests.
"I believe that fundamentally and basically the New York police authority also acted in line with their code of conduct and were making judgment on what happened at the scene in order to deal with the situation."
The official said the situation in Hong Kong was improving, and there was no need for the central government to deploy the People's Liberation Army in the city.
The official added that the central government "firmly supports" Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying, after Hong Kong lawmakers asked the city's anti-graft agency to investigate Leung over a $6.4 million payment he got from an Australian engineering company while he was in office.
"As for the specific case you have mentioned, the chief executive has made an explanation on that," the official said.