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Hong Kong gears up for fresh protests, strikes as anger boils over

17 Comments
By Clare Jim and Kane Wu

Hong Kong geared for more protests, including strikes, transport go-slows and even picnics, against a proposed extradition law that would allow people to be sent to China for trial, even as the city's leader vowed on Tuesday to push ahead with the bill.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's defiant pledge in the face of more mass protests underscored deep concerns across vast swaths of the Asian financial hub two days after hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest against the bill.

In a rare move, prominent business leaders warned that pushing through the extradition law could undermine investor confidence in Hong Kong and erode its competitive advantages.

The extradition bill, which has generated unusually broad opposition at home and abroad and plunged the city into political crisis, is due for a second round of debate on Wednesday in the city's 70-seat Legislative Council (LegCo). The legislature is controlled by a pro-Beijing majority.

Riot police ringed the LegCo building early on Monday and fought back a group of several hundred protesters after an otherwise peaceful march through the city's financial district on Sunday.

Lam warned against any similar action.

"I call on schools, parents, institutions, corporations, unions to consider seriously if they advocate these radical actions," Lam told a news briefing.

Human rights groups have repeatedly cited the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions, forced confessions and problems accessing lawyers in China as reasons why the bill should not proceed.

An online petition has called for 50,000 people to surround LegCo at 10 p.m. on Tuesday and remain until Wednesday, when the Chinese-ruled city is expected to see mass protests and more calls for the embattled Lam to step down.

Nearly 2,000 mostly small retail shops, including restaurants, grocery, book and coffee shops, have announced plans to strike, according to an online survey, a rare move in the staunchly capitalist economy.

Some tutorial schools, small hotels, law firms, social welfare workers and nearly 4,000 teachers also said they would go on strike and rally on Wednesday.

Prominent human rights lawyer Michael Vidler said he had notified all employees that his firm supported those who wanted to act according to their consciences on Wednesday.

A staff union affiliated to a pro-democracy labour group under the New World First Bus Company called on its members to drive at the speed of 20-25 kmh (12-15 mph) to show their opposition to the proposed law.

A Facebook post called on people to enjoy a picnic next to government offices on Wednesday morning, describing the area as"among the best picnic sites". The post has attracted close to 10,000 responses from people promising to attend.

Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 under a"one-country, two-systems" formula, with guarantees that its autonomy and freedoms, including an independent justice system, would be protected.

However, many accuse China of extensive meddling, denying democratic reforms and squeezing freedoms, interfering with local elections and the disappearance of five Hong Kong-based booksellers, starting in 2015, who specialised in works critical of Chinese leaders.

Prominent business figures urged the government to tread cautiously to protect Hong Kong's competitiveness.

"The integrity and independence of (Hong Kong's) legal system are absolutely central to Hong Kong's future," said Fred Hu, founder and chairman of China-based private equity firm Primavera Capital Group.

"Any missteps could be extremely costly, undermining the confidence of global investors and eroding Hong Kong's competitive advantages."

Activist investor David Webb, in a post on Lam's Facebook page, urged her to send the bill to the Law Reform Commission for further study.

"If you press ahead and bulldoze the bill through LegCo, then you will probably get the legislation passed, but at huge political cost and damage to the international credibility of HK for due process when reforming its legislation," Webb said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments
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Hong Kong's future was decided in 1997. "One-country, two-systems" formula, with guarantees that its autonomy and freedoms, including an independent justice system" If they believed it, they were too naive.  Come to Japan. We will welcome you.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Can not have one nation with two sets of law for two different sets of citizens. That is discrimination. One nation, one law. Extradition occurs between different countries and between different states within the same country, so way not between HK and China? As HK is part of the sovereign Chinese nation, the Chinese government have the right to set the law in HK as HK is part of China. The fact that HK was once annexed by Britain is of no consequence.

-19 ( +0 / -19 )

Uh, Riperez, that HK could maintain autonomy for 50 years was a binding agreement. That China would try to snake out of it is not surprising, but look for a large increase in expatriation. There is reason for fear.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Can not have one nation with two sets of law for two different sets of citizens.

It's not one nation. China + HK.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

No sovereign nation can give complete autonomy to part of its territory as, essentially that would make the territory an independent sovereign state itself.

 These demonstrations must be costing the CIA a fortune. This is no more that the US trying to weaken China, as it is doing in Venezuela, Cuba, Iran....

-18 ( +0 / -18 )

HK was part of China before British annexation and is part of China again.

" Britain occupied the island of Hong Kong on 25 January 1841 and used it as a military staging point. China was defeated and was forced to cede Hong Kong to Britain in the Treaty of Nanking signed on 29 August 1842. Hong Kong became a Crown Colony of the British Empire. On July 1, 1997, the lease ended and the United Kingdom transferred control of Hong Kong and surrounding territories to the People's Republic of China."

This is history NOT US propaganda.

-16 ( +1 / -17 )

China committed cultural genocide in Tibet, is doing the same to all its other ethnic minorities while also crushing freedom in Hong Kong. And Taiwan is next in line (though certainly not the last).

As in the 1930s, a brutal dictatorship spreads its pernicious influence throughout its region while the world stands by and hopes it will eventually stop of its own accord. Here we go again.

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” – Aldous Huxley

12 ( +12 / -0 )

rlperez@hotmail.com.auToday 03:32 pm JST

Can not have one nation with two sets of law for two different sets of citizens. That is discrimination. One nation, one law. Extradition occurs between different countries and between different states within the same country, so way not between HK and China? As HK is part of the sovereign Chinese nation, the Chinese government have the right to set the law in HK as HK is part of China. The fact that HK was once annexed by Britain is of no consequence.

Before going on your rant, have you ever heard about "One country, two systems" ?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

and China are trying to court Taiwan by offering them the same ‘one country, two systems ‘ deal.

no surprise that Taiwan keep rejecting their advances

9 ( +10 / -1 )

The two system agreement expires in 2047 and the law is being passed by the government in Hong Kong, not the PROC. This is news but it's being reported with a bit of a slant.

Taiwan is not Hong Kong. Taiwan is the ROC that lost a civil war to the Communist and fled to island. Both PROC and ROC claim to 'Be China', Hong Kong, the Europeans created this mess...

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Anger boils ? What anger ? Extradition law is standard international law among all nations. What makes Hong Kong so special that she can reject the law ? Being colonized for so long, HK needs to get rid of slave mentality.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Where was independent justice system when HK under British colonization ? Chinese people were not even allowed to be the head of govt, that was the democracy granted by the west.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

LagunaToday 03:49 pm JSTUh, Riperez, that HK could maintain autonomy for 50 years was a binding agreement. That China would try to snake out of it is not surprising, but look for a large increase in expatriation. There is reason for fear.

People in HK knew that back in 1987 and started leaving because they didn't want to live under Communism. In 1841 there was Imperial China which is long gone now. What Mao did to China changed everything. Red China is trying to weasel out of the agreement and I don't blame HK-ers for their anger.

AkieToday 10:19 pm JSTAnger boils ? What anger ? Extradition law is standard international law among all nations. What makes Hong Kong so special that she can reject the law ? Being colonized for so long, HK needs to get rid of slave mentality.

No, extradition law is not applied standardly among all nations. Argentina gave refuge to WW2 Nazi officers and many of them never faced justice in Europe. The mastermind behind a 1993 attempt to destroy the WTCs had a death warrant in his native Egypt but he died in solitary in the US because of no extradition treaty between the US and Egypt. Great Train Robber Ronald Biggs spent years in Brazil for the same reason. And there's the case of Gary Glitter who fled the UK and went to Cambodia and Vietnam and wasn't extradited back until Vietnam expelled him.

HK is not in a 'slave mentality', there was a binding 50-year agreement and China is violating it. What makes China so special that they can reject the law?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

starpunk, which UN law forbids extradition law for HK ? HK is a part of China, that is the fundamental proposition for all laws. The 50-year agreement is no special at all, and conditional.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

This is the line that HKG cannot let pass. If this passes, the rate of changes will accelerate.

It's bad enough that Beijing chooses the people who can run for office in HKG already. That needs to be rejected with write in votes for govt officials that Beijing doesn't pre-select.

China shouldn't be touching HKG govt before 2047.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

HK was slowly becoming a part of China since 1997. Now it's almost 75%.

Also, what happens to those HK Smart id card holders who lives in other countries and every 3 years they just have to be in HK even for a day to save their id status.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@rlperez

These demonstrations must be costing the CIA a fortune. This is no more that the US trying to weaken China, as it is doing in Venezuela, Cuba, Iran....

And with this one statement, you've lost all credibility. Even in an article about a rift between Hong Kong and China you manage to wedge your hatred of the US into it.

@akie

The 50-year agreement is no special at all, and conditional.

Sure, it's just a legally binding treaty registered with the UN. Not special at all.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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