Asia-Pacific

Protests over Hong Kong extradition bill

0:00

Another protest has been held in Hong Kong by residents angry at the government's handling of a controversial extradition bill.

Tens of thousands have rallied in a large Hong Kong suburb, driven by anger at the government's handling of an extradition bill that has revived fears of China tightening its grip over the ex-British colony and dismantling its freedoms.

Millions have taken to the streets over the past month in some of the largest and most violent protests in decades over an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

Police equipped with riot gear on Sunday clashed with some protesters who used metal barriers and other objects to block off roads.

Demonstrators marched in sweltering heat of about 32 degrees Celsius in Sha Tin, a town between Hong Kong island and the border with China, extending the protests outwards from the heart of the financial centre into surrounding neighbourhoods.

"These days there is really no trust of China, and so the protesters come out," said Jennie Kwan, 73.

"Didn't they promise 50 years, no change? And yet we've all seen the changes. I myself am already 70-something years old. What do I know about politics? But politics comes to you."

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that guarantees its people freedoms for 50 years that are not enjoyed in mainland China, including the liberty to protest and an independent judiciary.

Beijing denies interfering in Hong Kong affairs, but many residents worry about what they see as an erosion of those freedoms and a relentless march toward mainland control.

Hong Kong's embattled leader, Carrie Lam, has said the extradition bill is "dead", but opponents say they will settle for nothing short of its formal withdrawal.

Some protesters on Sunday waved banners appealing to US President Donald Trump to "Please liberate Hong Kong" and "Defend our Constitution".

One placard featured a picture of Chinese leader Xi Jinping with the words: "Extradite to China, disappear forever."

Chants of "Carrie Lam go to hell!" rang through the crowd, gathered well away from the island heart of the financial centre which has witnessed the largest and most violent demonstrations over the past month.

Organisers said around 115,000 attended Sunday's rally. Police put the number at 28,000 at its peak.

The protests have caused the former British colony's biggest political crisis since its handover to China. Demonstrators stormed the Legislative Council building on July 1 and ransacked it.

"I never missed a march so far since June," said a 69-year-old man who gave only his surname, Chen.

"I support the youngsters, they have done something we haven't done. There is nothing we can do to help them, but come out and march to show our appreciation and support."

Protesters are also demanding that Lam step down, the withdrawal of the word "riot" to describe demonstrations, the unconditional release of those arrested and an independent investigation into complaints of police brutality.

Earlier on Sunday, hundreds of journalists joined a silent march to demand better treatment from police at protests.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch