China's Communist Party is renewing its accusation that the United States is behind the pro-democracy protests that have paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for the past two weeks.
A front-page editorial Saturday in the party-run People's Daily said U.S. government officials, non-government groups and media are working to foment a "color revolution" in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
The editorial said the U.S. pretends to be defending democracy and human rights, but is really "defending its own strategic interests and undermining governments it considers to be 'insubordinate.'"
The paper, which generally reflects the sentiment of the Communist Party, referenced "media reports" suggesting Louisa Greve with the Washington-D.C.-based National Endowment for Democracy met with student protesters several months ago.
It appears to be Beijing's most direct accusation yet of U.S. involvement in the protest movement, which is aimed at allowing Hong Kong resident to elect their own leader in 2017.
The U.S. says it would like to see universal suffrage in Hong Kong, but has yet to offer its outright support to the civil disobedience movement, which appears to be picking up momentum.
Thousands of protesters gathered in Hong Kong Friday to renew their calls for electoral reform after the government abruptly canceled plans to meet with protest leaders.
On Friday, Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang said he is confident Hong Kong's "social stability" can be preserved and said China will not change its so-called "one country, two systems" arrangement for the territory.
While meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Li said Hong Kong's long-term stability must be preserved for the good of Hong Kong's citizens as well as those in mainland China.
Merkel called for freedom of speech to be preserved in Hong Kong, saying she hoped for a peaceful resolution to the tensions.
Government authorities backed out of the talks late Thursday, saying the negotiations scheduled for Friday could not be held while the protests they view as illegal continue.
The Beijing-friendly government was angered by student leaders' threats to escalate the protests if their demands for democratic reform were not met.
The protesters are demanding that Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying resign and that Beijing reverse its decision to screen candidates for the territory's 2017 election.
The number of protesters had dwindled to just a few hundred, down from the tens of thousands that initially gathered at the protest sites throughout the city.