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March against proposed extradition bill to China March against proposed extradition bill to China  (ANSA)

Hong Kong: protests against planned extradition bill

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens – over a million according to rally organizers - have marched in protest against a new bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.

The protesters reject a proposed plan by the government  to hand fugitives over to authorities in Macao, Taiwan and China. According to Hong Kong authorities, the bill stemmed from the case of a man who fled after murdering his girlfriend during a holiday in Taiwan. There is no extradition treaty between Taipei and Hong Kong and although Hong Kong police have reportedly identified the suspect, they cannot hand him over to their Taiwanese counterparts. According to the opposition, the reform planned by the government would put China’s political opponents  at risk of being extradited into the hands of Beijing police.

The former British colony was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, with the guarantee of semi-autonomy until 2047 and a set of certain rights and political freedoms, including an autonomous judiciary system. The opposition fears that the new bill would allow China to subject people who have fled to the former British colony for having expressed opinions contrary to the Beijing government to detention and trial in the People's Republic of China. Concern has also been expressed by international businesses, industrial and financial groups operating locally, because in times of an ongoing trade "war" between China and the United States, managers and bankers fear they could find themselves used as pawns in judicial disputes.

The extradition law is supported by Governor Carrie Lam, chief executive officer of Hong Kong. Her positions, so far, have had the effect of restoring momentum to the democratic opposition front that had dispersed after the so-called Umbrella Movement of 2014. Since April, people are mobilizing again: a large gathering of 180,000 people at Victoria Park commemorated the young people who died in 1989 in Tiananmen Square on 4 June; yesterday the most imposing  march in Hong Kong's history took place. Quietly and calmly, the protesters reportedly crossed the city to reach the government buildings, where finally clashes with the army erupted and - according to the opposition - several arrests were made.

10 June 2019, 16:23