Published: Sat, June 15, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Hong Kong police 'trapped in the middle' by polarizing extradition bill

Hong Kong police 'trapped in the middle' by polarizing extradition bill

On Sunday and again on Wednesday, Hong Kong saw mass protests against what is widely known as the extradition bill - proposed amendments to the Chinese special administration region's (SAR's) laws created to allow the case-by-case extradition of wanted fugitives to countries with which Hong Kong has no extradition treaty.

"No society ruled by law can tolerate such behaviour", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing, repeating its support for Hong Kong's government.

The announcement of the change to the China-backed extradition bill came on Saturday as the city girds for another mass protest over the measure this weekend.

A top Hong Kong adviser says he is recommending a re-evaluation of the government's fast-track approach to a controversial extradition bill that has sparked mass protests and the territory's worst violence in years.

"I don't think anyone (from Canada) is afraid for their public safety, unless they are choosing to engage directly in the public protests", said Work, a public policy analyst and former executive director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

"Passage will compel the US Senate to reevaluate aspects of the US-Hong Kong relationship", Risch said.

"At the very least we should not escalate the antagonism", Executive Council convenor Bernard Chan was also quoted as saying.

About 1 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong in protest of Beijing's increasing interference with the territory's rule of law and autonomy.

A statement from the government said Lam would address the media at 3 p.m. (0700 GMT) on Saturday. Taiwan's authorities have been unable to put him on trial because there is no relevant judicial agreement between the island and the special administrative region of China.

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Signs were posted on the walls of a pedestrian bridge near the city's government headquarters, including photocopies of the famed Associated Press "Tank Man" picture that became a symbol of resistance to China's bloody suppression of student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.

As protesters descended and global voices of criticism grew, the city's unicameral Legislative Council (LegCo) canceled its scheduled "second reading" debates on the extradition bill until further notice. On Wednesday, protesters surrounded the legislature and swarmed onto a major highway, before being forced back by riot police firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets.

Police said they arrested 11 people on charges such as assaulting police officers and unlawful assembly during Wednesday's protest.

Michael Tien, a member of Hong Kong's legislature and a deputy to China's national parliament, said a total withdrawal of the bill was unlikely. She has clearly stated that she intends to stand by the bill.

"If passed, Hong Kong people and the 60,000 American expatriates who are residing in Hong Kong will be exposed to the risk of facing criminal proceedings in China", the petition text at We The People said. "It was very much on people's minds".

"We sincerely urge the government to continue to listen to stakeholders and engage in meaningful dialogue with the public", Aron Harilela, the group's chairman, said in a statement, adding that it agrees with the underlying principle of the bill.

Washington has warned the law could "damage Hong Kong's business environment and subject our citizens residing in or visiting Hong Kong to China's capricious judicial system". "To say that I am just a puppet, that I won this election because of pro-Beijing forces, is a failure to acknowledge what I have done in Hong Kong over the last 36 years", she said. Lam has failed her job spectacularly. Making Hong Kong better is important for China to progress in a harmonious way.

"It's been tumultuous, stressful and hard for them", she said.

"Developments in Hong Kong from the Umbrella Movement to the recent protests, have cemented the view of people in Taiwan that the PRC can't be trusted to preserve their autonomy", Bonnie Glaser, a Taiwan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told AFP, referring to the 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that failed to win any concessions from Beijing.

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