HONG KONG • More than 100 people blocked a Hong Kong government building yesterday in protest against proposed legislation allowing extraditions to mainland China that they want scrapped.
Hong Kong's leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, saying she had heard the protesters "loud and clear", earlier this month postponed the Bill that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to the mainland for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.
The activists, mostly students, are demanding that the Bill be withdrawn and the government drop all charges against those arrested in recent protests. They are also pushing the authorities to stop referring to the demonstrations as a riot, which could potentially lead to heavier jail terms.
"It's inconvenient but I support it," a South African businessman, who declined to be identified, said of the protest at Revenue Tower near the heart of the financial hub.
The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and has since been governed under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows it freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including freedom to protest and a much-cherished independent judiciary.
The Bill has seen millions of people, fearing a drip-drip erosion of those freedoms, clog the streets in protest and plunge the city into political crisis, with many questioning the ability of Mrs Lam to govern.
The protesters are planning another demonstration tomorrow to raise awareness among world leaders attending the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in the Japanese city of Osaka this week.
Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Jun yesterday said China would not allow the G-20 nations to discuss Hong Kong at the summit. "What I can tell you for sure is that G-20 will not discuss the Hong Kong issue. We will not allow G-20 to discuss the Hong Kong issue," Mr Zhang said.
The Civil Human Rights Front, organiser of the mass protests, is gearing up for an annual pro-democracy march on July 1, the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Beijing. The group has called on people to turn out in force.
Beijing has said it supports Mrs Lam's decision to suspend the extradition Bill, but has been angered by criticism from Western capitals, including Washington, about the proposed legislation.