Hong Kong demonstrators occupy roads in extradition bill protest
Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong occupied key roads near the government’s offices on Wednesday morning as lawmakers were set to debate a controversial extradition bill that critics say will allow China to extradite whoever they want from the territory.
The city’s police force was out in force after students and small businesses said they would strike on Wednesday with calls to “picnic” in a park at the central government offices in opposition to the bill which would allow individuals to be sent to China to stand trial.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader, has vowed to push ahead with the bill, despite an estimated 1m taking to the streets on Sunday to oppose the plan.
Demonstrators wearing face masks occupied Harcourt Road and Lung Wo on either side of the government offices during morning rush hour. Both routes had been blocked during the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests calling for universal suffrage.
The government issued a statement saying all access roads to its central offices had been blocked and advised staff not to drive into work and to be mindful of their safety.
The “one country, two systems” framework agreed at Hong Kong’s handover from UK to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 was meant to protect Hong Kong’s civil liberties for 50 years. The territory does not have an extradition agreement with China.
The US state department expressed its “grave concern” over the bill on Monday, saying the proposal put the Hong Kong’s special status at risk.
The chairman of Hong Kong’s legislature announced on Tuesday that the bill would go to a final vote on June 20, much earlier than expected.