Protesters march along a road demonstrating against a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
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Hong Kong police fire tear gas in running battles with extradition bill protesters

48 Comments
By Clare Jim and Jessie Pang

Hong Kong police fired multiple volleys of tear gas at demonstrators who threw plastic bottles in running battles outside the city's legislature, angry at an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Tens of thousands of protesters had gathered peacefully in the Chinese-ruled city before tempers flared, some charging police with umbrellas. Police warned them back, saying: "We will use force."

The protesters, most of them young people dressed in black, had erected barricades as they prepared to hunker down for an extended occupation of the area, in scenes reminiscent of pro-democracy "Occupy" protests that gridlocked the former British colony in 2014.

Protesters rallied in and around Lung Wo Road, a main east-west artery near the offices of embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, as hundreds of armed riot police, some with plastic shields, warned them to stop advancing.

"Didn't we say at the end of the Umbrella movement we would be back?" pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said, referring to the name often used for the "Occupy" demonstrations, whose trademark was the yellow umbrella.

"Now we are back!" she said as supporters echoed her words.

Others once again called for Lam to step down.

Opposition to the bill on Sunday triggered Hong Kong's biggest political demonstration since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "once country, two systems" deal guaranteeing it special autonomy, including freedom of assembly, free press and independent judiciary.

But many accuse China of extensive meddling since, including obstruction of democratic reforms, interference with local elections and of being behind the disappearance of five Hong Kong-based booksellers, starting in 2015, who specialised in works critical of Chinese leaders.

Lam has vowed to press ahead with the legislation despite deep concerns in the Asian financial hub, including among business leaders, that it could undermine those freedoms and investor confidence and erode the city's competitive advantages.

The government said debate on the bill that was due to take place in the city's 70-seat Legislative Council on Wednesday would be delayed until further notice.

The legislature is controlled by a pro-Beijing majority.

"We won't leave till they scrap the law," said one young man wearing a black mask and gloves.

"Carrie Lam has underestimated us. We won't let her get away with this."

Beijing again reiterated that the "one country, two systems" formula was best for maintaining long-term prosperity and stability.

"The practice of 'one country, two systems' in Hong Kong has achieved remarkable success. This is an undeniable objective fact," Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

China's Foreign Ministry reiterated its support for the legislation.

“Any actions that harm Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability are opposed by mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong,” spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters.

He was asked about rumors that more Chinese security forces were going to be sent to Hong Kong. He said this was “fake news”.

The rally was within sight of the Hong Kong garrison of China's People's Liberation Army, whose presence in the city has been one of the most sensitive elements of the 1997 handover.

Many of the protesters, who skipped work, school or university to join the rally, defied police calls to retreat and passed around provisions, including medical supplies, goggles, water and food.

Some stockpiled bricks broken away from pavements.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung urged the protesters to stop occupying the road and appealed for calm and restraint. "We also appeal to the people who are stationed to ... disperse as soon as possible, and not to try to defy/challenge the law," he said.

The demonstrators rallied just a stone's throw from the heart of the financial centre, where glittering skyscrapers house the offices of some of the world's biggest companies, including HSBC.

Standard Chartered, Bank of East Asia and HSBC suspended bank operations at some branches in the area.

A spokesman for bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) said Lam would not attend a cocktail reception on Wednesday as previously planned.

The proposed bill has attracted widespread criticism at home and abroad, prompting rare criticism from judges, Hong Kong's business community, some pro-establishment figures and several foreign governments and business chambers.

Demonstrators began joining overnight protests earlier on Wednesday as businesses across the city prepared to go on strike.

Lam has sought to soothe public concerns and said her administration was creating additional amendments to the bill, including safeguarding human rights.

Under the proposed law, Hong Kong residents, as well as foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling through the city, would all be at risk if they were wanted on the mainland.

Sunday's protest, which organisers said saw more than a million people take to the streets, in addition to a growing backlash against the extradition bill, could raise questions about Lam's ability to govern effectively.

CRISIS

The protests have plunged Hong Kong into political crisis, just as the 2014 demonstrations did, heaping pressure on Lam's administration and her official backers in Beijing.

The failure of the 2014 protests to wrest concessions on democracy from Beijing, coupled with the prosecutions of at least 100 mostly young protesters, initially discouraged many from returning to the streets. That changed on Sunday.

The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong called on the government not to pass the bill "hurriedly" and urged Christians to pray for the city. Lam, who warned against "radical action" at the protests, is a Catholic.

Human rights groups have repeatedly cited the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions, forced confessions and problems accessing lawyers in China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party, as reasons why the Hong Kong bill should not proceed.

China denies accusations that it tramples on human rights and official media said this week "foreign forces" were trying to damage China by creating chaos over the extradition bill.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

48 Comments
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Why are communists so afraid of freedom, why do they have such heavy handed laws?

... I think I know the reason.

Don't they know that they can't control their citizens like children forever!

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Thank you Hong Kongers — out there on the front line for the rest of the world.

23 ( +25 / -2 )

If only more Japanese people would go out and protest if a crazy law (e.g. no secrecy law, hold a someone imprisoned without a fair trial etc) was implemented perhaps something would change in Japan.

18 ( +23 / -5 )

30 years ago, I speculated at which country would take over which. Xi is playing a dangerous game. It could spill over.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

This is probably not even reported in the press on the mainland. Word of mouth will still get through and spread like wildfire.

It is not surprising that Chinese citizens who enjoy more natural freedom than the vast majority on the mainland wish to guard those freedoms. Any leadership that uses fear and repression to keep its people in line has a use-by date that will eventually come to pass. Once a system like that crumbles it happens fast. Look at East Germany and the collapse of the USSR. China's CCP use-by date will also come.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

China is too old, Hong Kong is new. China has lost her way.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I'm anxious about this and hope both sides don't turn to violence.

My hopes are with the good, free HK people.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Beijing should be afraid, very afraid of arousing the ire of the sleeping (with one eye open) Hong Kong Dragon of democracy that they've long been poking with their incorrigible, autocratic agenda. Other governments should take note, too, because people all around the world are fast running out of patience with state terrorism and the contempt of their ruling classes for freedom and respect for human rights.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Let's pray Xi doesn't send in the tanks. HKers should be very wary of any sudden clampdown on the media / internet in the next few days. Beijing will be watching this very closely. I don't think they will permit any spillover or challenge to their authority. The sudden scale of this is surprising and dangerous.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Many already had left Hong Kong after 1997, I guess.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Beijing amassed troops and APCs during tge last big demonstration in Hong Kong (yellow umbrella). I would be guessing they're just as ready now as they were in 14', and lesson learnt from Tiananmen.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Down with the puppet Lady Carrie LAM of Hong Kong! She has made herself notorious dictator in Hong Kong's history and shameful by pressing ahead with the passage of that fascist Extradition Bill. Down with the fascist Communist Regime in China! We join together praying for the prosperity of Hong Kong and those brave demonstrators who are showing their strength, faith, desires for genuine freedom, unity to fight until the last minute! Let us pray for the collapse of the fascist Communist Regime in China!!! Let us fight against the fascist regime in China!!!

9 ( +10 / -1 )

For now it's rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray, but things could turn ugly real quick. It's hard to be optimistic about how this stand off will end as we know how Beijing deals with what it considers dissent.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Stay Strong my friends, it's going to get bad.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The govt should find a more civilized way of dealing with their own.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The protesters need to help the police see which side they need to support.

This is an important time for Hong Kong. They need to keep the pressure up for a long time. The mainland will likely respond, but that takes a little time to organize.

Keep the pressure up.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I can only give out a phase "Live Free or Die".

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Even this time, it fails, their will be next, and next. Money will probably start shifting away from HK. HK could start losing its status as international financial center.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

https://twitter.com/Qwe123a01478314/status/1138749590750949378

This is real

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The people are fighting for their freedoms before the breath of the red dragon from the north comes down on them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The people are fighting for their freedoms before the breath of the red dragon from the north comes down on them.

Sadly, to no avail.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

As much as i like Hong Kong democracy, this will never work. Is useless these protests. China will never back off. HK is just a small region of China. HK population will never able to withstand the mainland. Only conclusion from this is that more HK'er migrate to other nations,while mainland people move in. 10 years from now,no one will remember them and China hold will just get stronger by the day. These protest are nothing to the mainland. They have been eating these things for breakfast for decades and had perfected the art how to crack them down. These protests will just only make mainland more determined and give insights who they need to put on their watch list and who need to be removed.

Seven decades and nothing change. North Korea,China and Russia. You can't change other nations ideals and views no matter how much the world is against them. Just look at the world. Which nation wide protest against the government has ever succeeded these last few years? All they find is only misery. The Arab spring was a widespread failure. France yellow vest movement was a joke. Venezuela protests didn't do much. This is the harsh truth.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

^ Sad but true.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In Moscow 100, protesting journalists were arrested. We should never take for the granted, the right to assemble and protest. We must guard never to lose that right.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No one is above the laws.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

You want a rule based world, you have to obey it, not others.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

These HK people are the latest braves. Because they know the real threat. They have the biggest external antidemocratic pressure, with China eyes watching all their movement individually and they still dare resisting to this coming dictatorship. Hats off!

At the same time, well established democracies are self-destructing by voting for autoritarisme regimes or leaders (USA, Hungary, Japan, Italy, France, and so on ...)

We are in troubled moments excited by a few super powerful individuals. Keep calm and say NO!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@ Hiro

With this kind of mindset we would still be in the dark age everywhere.

People stood up for freedom, a lot of them died, but at the end they made it. Our only task - for the ones who have the chance to enjoy it - is to keep it!

Mixing HK, France or Venezuela issues is a complete non-sense.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Communist China, give Hong Kong people what they want: Freedom, Democracy, Rule of Law, and Independence.

It is certain, The Communists will crush these young freedom-loving Hong Kong people, just like they crushed all those tens of thousands of the young under hundreds of tanks, in Tiananmen Square, IF the world looks the other way. Democracies like Japan and USA are side by side with Hong Kong in their battle. These street battles will turn into war if the Communists do not back down.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

^Better not.

In most cases, HKers are very reasonable, logical and not care about politics that much. With this many people after that over a million match on June 9th, something (most likely someones) really ticked them off. Sending someone to a juridical system that is known to frame people for crimes they never committed and at the second last place of human right is not any responsible government with even a slightest of conscience should do. I guess the phase "Might is right" really shows here.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Is it double talking to say that Hong Kong people fighting for freedom when they are actually exercising it ? Is it double talking to say Hong Kong people fighting for the rule of laws when they are actually against it ? By the way, who are these Hong Kongers ? Children of Elizabeth ?

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

I like Hong Kong. China is going to learn a great lesson from Hong Kong. Watch.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Good luck HK!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I admire the HK people for their united efforts to put up a fight however the fact is HK is part of China now. It's a futile struggle to stop the inevitable.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thís protest, and prior protests, and other future protests, regardless of the subject matter, are more like unleasings of frustration from being part of China. They feel now they're being chained and lost the freedom they once had. So they try at all the chance they get at getting out of this chain. It feels like they're in denial but I can understand the feelings. Then at the end of the day, it is what it is. It may not amount to anything but they express what they wanted to express.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

South Korea made an attractive peace protest in 2017 and ended in their favor of justice. It is arguably the No. 1 successful peace protest in the world.

But HK can't do the same. China is too powerful. Therefore, Canton people need to be aggressive but still will never win. Too powerful but Keep fighting for your rights, Hong Kongers!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Akie

Is it double talking to say that Hong Kong people fighting for freedom when they are actually exercising it ?

it's more than double talk Akie, it's actually very repugnant and abhorrent to misrepresent the protesters in such a way. Your post demonstrates the repugnant nature of communism, its authoritarian rulers and their sympathisers.

The protesters are desperately trying to halt the passage of laws that exposes them to spurious accusations and eventual extradition to a communist state with a draconian justice system. To empathise is to be human.

Are you ignoring all the recent groundless arrests, all the previous kidnapping, all the political, thinned skin arrests?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Akie

June 12 11:16 pm JST

Is it double talking to say that Hong Kong people fighting for freedom when they are actually exercising it ? Is it double talking to say Hong Kong people fighting for the rule of laws when they are actually against it ? By the way, who are these Hong Kongers ? Children of Elizabeth ?

What laws are you talking about?

Mainland can't be trusted, hkers understood so much after China stepped on their written and verbal agreements made during the retrocession, those means nothing to China and are not a guarantee for hk people anymore.

Elizabeth? Those kids fighting are mostly born after 96, they don't identify themselves as British or Chinese, they are Hong Kongers and fighting for China to keep its words until 2047. Every day they feel the Chinese pressure increasing. The two systems is dying and the old folks gave up.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A Chinese man once told me never trust the Chinese.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No one is above the laws.

Then you should agree that China should be abiding by the treaty that is legally registered with the United Nations...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

When China first regained sovereignty over Hong Kong, it was publicly agreed that this sort of thing would never happen. The example Beijing is now setting does not look good to Taiwan. One more reason not to trust the Chinese dictatorship.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When a government oppresses its people they are likely to react with anger, the strongest since the 1960's.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

When China first regained sovereignty over Hong Kong, it was publicly agreed that this sort of thing would never happen

Yes, that's the modus operandi of the CCP, no need to deliver any promises. They can just wait out any repercussion, they have time, can't be voted out.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The police has done a good job! Those crying babes obstructing justice must smell the tear gas and eat rubber bullets!

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Those crying babes obstructing justice must smell the tear gas and eat rubber bullets!

Comments like this remind me that mainland Chinese are their own worst enemies sometimes. And comments like this are exactly why they are protesting in Hong Kong.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

elephant200Today  11:03 am JST

The police has done a good job! Those crying babes obstructing justice must smell the tear gas and eat rubber bullets!

What the police is doing is despicable. The HK police are just acting on behalf of the communist leaning HK government, headed by Carrie Lam. They want to crush democracy, and kill if they have to. The world is watching, and will support the protesters fighting for Freedom.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Akie you want freedom sometimes you got to fight for it..

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The CCP does not respect basic human rights to freedom. They believe a small group of individuals should be able to control over a billion other lives of their own countrymen/women.

Mainland Chinese need to realise that they number hundreds of millions in number over the CCP consolidated regime. And that they can easily stop doing what the CCP demands them to do, and overwhelm the CCP with what they, (the average people of China) want for leadership and freedom. This is exactly why the CCP does what it does, is if the hundreds of millions of Chinese PEOPLE protest against the government, even the PLA (which is not there to kill or harm it's the people of China, but to PROTECT them from military invasion) could not partake in suppressing such a thing without it scarring their souls and questioning the actions of the government for ordering such an oppressive tactic (again).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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