The streets of Hong Kong erupted on Sunday and continued well towards Monday after pro-Beijing leaders agreed to pass a controversial extradition law. Hong Kong’s parliament is pushing for a bill that would allow ‘suspected’ criminals to be extradited to mainland China for trial and sentencing. Hong Kong residents claim the bill would serve as a guise for China to advance its political interests, and put the city’s vaunted legal independence at risk.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched in blazing summer heat through the cramped streets of the financial hub’s main island in a noisy, colourful demonstration calling on the government to scrap its planned extradition law. Protests continued well into Monday and riot police had to surround Hong Kong’s parliament early Monday morning after what had been a peaceful protest descended into running clashes between police and protesters.
Organizers said there were more than a million protesters, although police put the number at about 240,000.
The protests are said to have spilled over Sydney and London as well. About 1,000 people joined a protest in Sydney and another protest was also reported in London.
What does Hong Kong have to say?
Hong Kong, despite tremendous domestic pressure and international condemnation, on Sunday eveneing vowed they would go ahead with the law. Defending the bill, they said the law carries ‘adequate safeguards’ – something Hong Kong residents do not trust.
“Foreign forces” are trying to hurt China by creating chaos in Hong Kong over an extradition bill that has prompted mass protests in the former British colony, an official Chinese newspaper said on Monday. The China Daily said in an editorial the bill was much-needed legislation.
The proposed law has been fast-tracked through the city’s government-dominated legislature and on Wednesday it will receive its second reading, with plans to have the law on the statute book by late July.