- Mass protests continued in Hong Kong on Tuesday night and into Wednesday as the Legislative Council of the semi-autonomous territory mulls a controversial bill, which would allow for the extradition of criminals to mainland China.
- The bill was brought about after a 19-year-old Hong Kong resident allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend while on vacation in Taiwan but fled back home and could not be extradited to face trial.
- Critics say the bill would subject Hong Kong residents to unfair trials in China and would encourage China’s encroachment on the semi-autonomous region.
- On Wednesday, police fired tear gas and shot rubber bullets into crowds of protesters gathered in front of the territory’s Legislative Council.
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Mass protests continued in Hong Kong on Tuesday night and into Wednesday afternoon as the government of the territory considers a controversial bill, which would allow for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China.
The bill was set to be debated by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Wednesday morning but was officially postponed as protesters blocked key roads leading to the building.
The bill would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited to mainland China for trial, and it came about after a 19-year-old Hong Kong resident allegedly murdered his pregnant girlfriend while on holiday in Taiwan last year, the BBC said. The man fled back to Hong Kong but could not be tried in Taiwan as an extradition treaty between the territories does not currently exist.
Critics say the bill would subject Hong Kong residents to unfair trials in China and would encourage China’s encroachment on the semi-autonomous region, which was allowed to keep its independent legal system after being handed back by the British in 1997.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets beginning on Sunday in one of the largest protests the country has seen in years.
Scores of protesters camped overnight in Tamar Park on Tuesday, and on Wednesday they blocked major roads leading to the legislature. By the afternoon, the protest ballooned into the financial district.
— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) June 12, 2019
Video from the event shows protesters throwing bricks and umbrellas at heavily armed police standing guard in front of the legislature building. Police encouraged protesters to dissipate and said that they would use force against if necessary.
People at the scene who spoke to Business Insider via WhatsApp said some protesters were shuttling back and forth from the protest site to grab additional supplies.
— Mike Bird (@Birdyword) June 12, 2019
Hong Kong’s Police Commissioner described the protests as “riots” and told violent protesters to “think twice” about their actions.
Despite backlash, Hong Kong leaders have still signaled that they plan to pass the bill. Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said the bill will help maintain justice in the region, and proposed amendments address human rights concerns.
On Tuesday night local time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement standing with the protesters.
“The extradition bill imperils the strong U.S.-Hong Kong relationship that has flourished for two decades,” the statement said. “If it passes, the Congress has no choice but to reassess whether Hong Kong is ‘sufficiently autonomous’ under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework.”
“The House stands united with Senator McConnell, the Administration and all who have denounced this dangerous extradition legislation,” Pelosi’s statement continued. “America stands with the people of Hong Kong.”