Asia-Pacific

Fresh protests rock Hong Kong

Protesters have again rallied outside the offices of public officials as they seek to attract attention during the G20 summit in Japan.

Hong Kong has plunged into chaos again as protesters rallied outside the justice secretary's offices, blocking roads and forcing workers to leave in the latest unrest to rock the city.

Millions have thronged the streets in the past three weeks to demand that a now-suspended extradition bill, which would allow criminal suspects to be sent to the mainland for trial in courts controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, be scrapped altogether.

"I think this movement is very successful because this time the goal is very clear," one protester, Ken Yau said on Thursday, drawing a contrast with Hong Kong's 2014 democracy movement that gridlocked parts of the Asian financial centre for 79 days.

In sweltering heat of 32 degrees C, some protesters chanted, "Withdraw evil law, release martyrs...Teresa Cheng, come out," referring to the justice secretary.

Others shouted, "Condemn excessive force by police and release protesters."

Police formed a cordon to block the demonstrators, and one officer held a banner warning them away. Minor scuffles broke out between pro-democracy group Demosisto and officers.

In the early hours, riot police wielding batons and shields chased dozens of protesters as they broke up a siege of police headquarters.

The demonstrators have seized on this week's G20 summit of world leaders in Japan to appeal for Hong Kong's plight to be put on the agenda, a move certain to rile Beijing, which has vowed not to tolerate such discussion.

Images of police firing rubber bullets and tear gas beneath gleaming skyscrapers this month near the heart of the financial centre grabbed global headlines and drew condemnation from international rights groups and protest organisers.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who has kept a low profile over the past few days, bowed to public pressure and suspended the bill a day after the violent protests but stopped short of a full withdrawal and rejected repeated calls to step down.

Since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, it has been governed under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including the liberty to protest and an independent judiciary.

But many accuse China of increased meddling over the years, by obstructing democratic reform, interfering with elections, suppressing young activists, as well as being behind the disappearance of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who specialised in works critical of Chinese leaders.

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