The US Congress should not interfere in any way in the internal affairs of Hong Kong, the city’s government said in a statement on Sunday evening, after tens of thousands of protesters called for the re-introduction of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

A spokesperson for the Hong Kong government expressed regret over the re-introduction of the Act, which is expected to be discussed in the US Congress on September 9.

The spokesperson said Hong Kong’s separate customs territory status and trade autonomy were conferred by Articles 116 and 151 of the Basic Law, instead of an offering by other jurisdictions.

The spokesperson said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had already announced on September 4 the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill.

Regarding the incidents in 2015 connected to a bookstore in Causeway Bay, the Hong Kong Police have not discovered evidence indicating there was “law enforcement across the boundary,” said the spokesperson.

“The government has all along been dealing with matters relating to Hong Kong in strict accordance with the principle of one country, two systems and the Basic Law.”

In late 2015, five booksellers from the Causeway Bay Bookstore disappeared and were reportedly detained in the mainland. In June 2016, Lam Wing-kee, one of the booksellers, successfully evaded the mainland officers who had taken him to Shenzhen after their mission in Hong Kong.

Lam later told the Hong Kong media that he was intercepted by mainland customs officers when he visited Shenzhen on October 24, 2015. He said he was then detained in China until he was allowed to return to Hong Kong as mainland officers asked him to get a hard disc containing a customer list from his bookstore.

Protesters gather at Charter Garden on September 8. Photo: Asia Times

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong rallied on the streets in Central district and called for the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

Organizers of the rally said the Chinese government had violated the Sino-British Joint Declaration and undermined the one country two systems agreement in Hong Kong. They said the US government should freeze the assets of Hong Kong and Chinese officials and senior police officers, who they said had brutally suppressed anti-extradition protests over the past three months.

On September 4, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, said members of the US Congress “look forward to swiftly advancing the bipartisan Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to reaffirm the US commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the face of Beijing’s crackdown.”

Democrats and Republicans “stand united” in backing the people of Hong Kong and their pursuit of democracy, she said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on September 5 that US lawmakers should stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and abandon the bill as the issue was purely China’s internal affair.

Beijing will not give in to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and will not change its policy because of the US government’s political preference,  the Global Times said in an editorial published on Monday.

Hong Kong’s separate customs territory status is not a gift given by the US but it has a nature of mutual benefit, the editorial said, adding that US political elites have no right to define Hong Kong’s one country two systems principle.

Read: HK protesters call on US to pass Human Rights Act

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