Organizers: Million in Hong Kong protest mainland extradition plan

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader on Monday refused to scrap a controversial plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland, a day after huge crowds came out to oppose the proposal.

Organizers say more than a million people marched through the streets of the territory against a proposed new law that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China.

To become law, the bill needs to be approved by Hong Kong's legislative council where some, but not all, of the seats are directly elected by Hong Kong's voters, and where pro-government groups have a majority.

Other protesters called for Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, to step down.

Hong Kong's appointed leaders are increasingly perceived to be doing the bidding of Beijing, and there is little trust in their assurances that the law won't impact the city's prized independent judiciary or its wider freedoms.

Protest organisers, the Civil Human Rights Front, are set to meet the media at 1pm on Monday, with the extradition bill due to arrive at the main legislative chamber on Wednesday.

Britain handed back its former colony to China in 1997, on the basis that Hong Kong would be a Special Administrative Region (SAR) with a large degree of autonomy under its Basic Law.

Alex Ng, a 67-year-old retiree, said he joined the protest because "I think that there was never any public consultation about this law, and there are a lot of uncertainties".

"The millions of Hong Kong people in Canada and around the world will also be affected".

Half a million people were expected to courageous sweltering heat on Sunday in Hong Kong to press the government to scrap the proposed law.

The Hong Kong government should immediately withdraw the bill and adhere to the principles of the "one country, two systems" framework, the Hong Kong Basic Law and global human rights law to ensure freedom and human rights are protected in the territory, they said.

"I hope that in the Legislative Council, everyone can continue the discussion in a frank, peaceful and rational way and continue to follow up on this matter", he said.

"Some very specific not-in-my-backyard-type protests have resulted in concessions by the authorities", says Prof Tsang, adding that these are seen as "easier to accommodate" because they focus on local issues rather than political ones.

Under the 50-year handover deal with the British, China agreed to a "one country, two systems" model where Hong Kong would keep freedom of speech and assembly rights that are unheard of on the authoritarian mainland.

The editorial pointed to meetings between Hong Kong opposition figures and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"The passage of this bill comes at the expense of the business community and we fear business confidence will suffer", she said.

From mid-afternoon until well past nightfall, hundreds of thousands poured in from a major Hong Kong roadway to gather outside Legislative Council, the city's semi-democratic legislature that is now debating the bill.

The latest proposal has come after a 19-year-old Hong Kong man allegedly murdered his 20-year-old pregnant girlfriend while they were holidaying in Taiwan together in February last year.

The Hong Kong government plans to bypass the committee process and bring the bill directly to the full legislature, with plans to pass it by the end of June.

Organisers estimated that the crowd surpassed the 500,000 who marched in 2003 against a national security law that was later canned.

A protester shouts next to policemen as protesters march in a rally against the proposed amendments to extradition law in Hong Kong.

  • Leroy Wright