Aug. 7 (UPI) -- China's top political liaison to Hong Kong warned Wednesday the island territory faces its most serious threat since it returned to Beijing's control 22 years ago, over the ongoing outcry related to a proposed extradition bill.
Zhang Xiaoming, director of China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told business and political leaders in Shenzhen the severity of the crisis is growing and becoming more violent. Multiple rallies in recent weeks have led to dozens of injuries and hundreds of arrests.
Zhang said the Chinese government has become very concerned about the terse conditions.
The backlash has led lawmakers to shelve debate over the bill, which would allow China to extradite Hong Kong fugitives, but only temporarily. Opponents want the proposal eliminated, and some have called for leader Carrie Lam to resign.
"The most pressing and overriding task at present is to stop violence, end the chaos and restore order, so as to safeguard our homeland and prevent Hong Kong from sinking into an abyss," Zhang said, vowing Beijing won't allow demonstrations to grow out of control.
More than 3,000 members of Hong Kong's legal community demonstrated Wednesday by dressing in black, and marching in silence to the Hong Kong justice ministry, demanding the end of political prosecutions. Politician Dennis Kwok said the group also marched against the extradition bill in June.