October 16, 2019

Hong Kong Protest Live Updates: City Braces for More Demonstrations

Hong Kong Protest Live Updates: City Braces for More Demonstrations


Protesters plan to march again on Sunday against an unpopular extradition bill, one day after Hong Kong’s chief executive said she would postpone a vote on the legislation and a week after up to a million people took to the streets to oppose it.

Sunday’s march follows earlier clashes with the police, a change in sentiment among the city’s powerful business community, back-room political machinations and a considerable government concession, but many protesters said they would not be fully satisfied until the government withdrew the legislation completely and apologized for the use of heavy-handed police tactics.

The legislation would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory, to be transferred for trial in mainland China and other jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no extradition treaty.

The Hong Kong government says the law is necessary to prevent the city from becoming a haven for criminals. But the legal system in the mainland is controlled by the ruling Communist Party, and critics worry that Beijing could use the extradition law to target political dissidents.

Marchers, many of them dressed in black T-shirts and carrying white flowers, are scheduled to set off from Victoria Park at 2:30 p.m., heading for the Hong Kong government complex about a mile and a half away. Some laid flowers near the site of where, the police said, a man jumped from a building on Saturday. The man unfurled an anti-government banner and his death quickly became a rallying cry for some demonstrators.

A similar protest last Sunday drew more than a million people, organizers said, making it one of the largest demonstrations in the history of Hong Kong, a city of about seven million. On Wednesday, lawmakers were forced to postpone a scheduled debate when tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside the legislature. Some protesters who tried unsuccessfully to storm the building were met with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets from riot police officers.

In a remarkable reversal, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said on Saturday that she would indefinitely suspend the bill.

[The bill’s suspension is China’s biggest political retreat under President Xi Jinping.]

Ms. Lam, who took over as Hong Kong’s leader in 2017 with the support of Beijing, had vowed to ensure the bill’s approval and tried to get it passed on an unusually short timetable, even as hundreds of thousands demonstrated against it last week.

[Carrie Lam is known for almost never backing down in a fight.]

As pressure mounted, even some pro-Beijing lawmakers said the measure should be delayed. While the suspension is a victory for Hong Kong protesters, Ms. Lam made it clear on Saturday that the bill was being delayed, not withdrawn outright. City leaders hope that delaying the legislation will cool public anger, but leading opposition figures and protesters say that is wishful thinking.

In pushing the extradition legislation, the Hong Kong government has cited the murder last year of a 20-year-old Hong Kong woman on vacation with her boyfriend in Taiwan, another jurisdiction with which Hong Kong has no extradition agreement.

The boyfriend, a 19-year-old also from Hong Kong, told the police that after an argument with the woman, who was pregnant, he strangled her, stuffed her body in a suitcase and dumped it near a subway station in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital.

Hong Kong officials said the extradition law was necessary for the man to be prosecuted in Taiwan, a self-governing island that is claimed by China. But officials in Taiwan, who have sided with Hong Kong protesters in opposing the extradition legislation, say they would not seek the man’s extradition even if it passed.



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