Scrap China extradition law: Hong Kong protesters
Hong Kong govt says it plans to have the law on the statute book by late July
Hong Kong: Tens of thousands of people marched in blazing summer heat through the cramped streets of Hong Kong on Sunday as anger swells over plans to allow extradition to China, a proposal that has sparked the biggest public backlash against the city's pro-Beijing leadership in years. They have demanded the government to scrap its planned extradition law.
Coffee shop owner Marco Ng said he was closing his store to join the march. "Our city matters more than our business," the 26-year-old told AFP. "If we don't speak out, then there's no way that the government will listen to our concerns."
"The people's voices are not being heard," said 18-year-old student Ivan Wong. "This bill will not just affect Hong Kong's reputation as an international finance centre, but also our judicial system. That has an impact on my future."
The proposed law has sparked an opposition that unites a wide demographic, setting off the largest demonstrations since 2014 pro-democracy protests brought parts of the city to a standstill for two months.
Lawyers, judges and the city's two main legal groups — the Law Society and the Bar Association — have urged a rethink. Business figures are also rattled with multiple chambers of commerce and commercial groups expressing alarm, adding to criticism from the US, Canada, former colonial power Britain and many European governments.
Online petitions have been started by groups as diverse as stay-at-home mums, students, nurses and horse racing fans. Hong Kong's leaders, who are not popularly elected, say the law is needed to plug loopholes and stop the city being a bolthole for mainland fugitives. They say dissidents and critics will not be extradited and have urged quick passage of the bill in order to extradite a Hong Kong man who is wanted in Taiwan for murdering his girlfriend.
But critics fear the law would entangle people in China's opaque and politicised court system and say the government is using the Taiwan case as a Trojan Horse. The proposed law has been fast-tracked through the city's legislature which is dominated by pro-Beijing members and on Wednesday it will receive its second reading.
The government says it plans to have the law on the statute book by late July. Previous sessions in parliament have descended into chaos with rival lawmakers scuffling. Several senior Communist Party leaders in China have voiced support for the bill.
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