"The world is watching" - that is the chant on the streets of Hong Kong as images of mega-protests are beamed around the globe.

Two million people in a territory of seven million went out to stop the passage of a controversial law that would allow suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China

But even though the extradition bill was suspended, the black-clad, helmet-wearing protesters haven't stopped their demonstrations.

Global news outlets have covered the movement's additional demand that Hong Kong's Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, to resign and their accusations against police for using undue force against protesters.

"Hong Kong's situation has been taken up by the international media, almost uniformly ... saying that Hong Kong is being threatened. They say this is a David and Goliath story," says Einar Tangen, a political and economic affairs commentator.

When Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, the "one country, two system" framework that came into force promised citizens a "high degree of autonomy for 50 years" - which explains the lack of an extradition treaty with mainland China.

But critics say there have been plenty of signs that Beijing is already influencing politics and the state of the media in Hong Kong.

"It's not just about the bill but about China's attitude towards press freedom and its understanding of judicial independence," says Shirley Yam of the Hong Kong Journalists Association. "Several journalists and editors from Hong Kong have been harassed or even sentenced to jail by mainland authorities with charges that have nothing to do with their reports."

According to Yuen Chan, a Senior Lecturer at the City University of London, "We've seen creeping self-censorship, we've seen businesses withdrawing their advertising under pressure from needing to do business with China. So, all those things are very real threats. But at the same time, compared to the press in mainland China, the Hong Kong media is far more vibrant, is out there exposing scandals and people are very proud of that. And the fact that the media can report on these demonstrations is very important to the people of Hong Kong."

Yet, regardless of the extensive international news coverage, state-run news outlets in mainland China either ignored the demonstrations or echoed the party line, claiming that there's a Western conspiracy at play.

"Some people ... have really been completely brainwashed into thinking that all these protests are initiated by 'foreign influences'. But that's just ridiculous. Like two million people on the street ... of course, that is not true and, but that's what they're trying to tell the public in China," says Denise Ho, singer and pro-democracy activist.

The numbers on the streets of Hong Kong are considerably higher than the 2014 mass protests over proposed electoral reforms, because the stakes have grown larger with the passage of time.

The city-state is now five years closer to losing what autonomy it has - the remnants of a democracy, the semblance of a free media - five years closer to 2047 and direct rule by Beijing.

If Hong Kong were in control of its own future, those two million people on the streets would amount to real political power, a force to be reckoned with.

But it's not. And there is a country of 1.4 billion people next door and a government in Beijing that, like the media that the state controls, is treating Hong Kong's protests as a non-story.

Source: Al Jazeera News