Australia

'Show restraint, avoid violence': Australia flags 'concerns' about Hong Kong protests, extradition law change

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Marise Payne is urging protesters and police to show restraint and avoid violence, as rallies continue in Hong Kong over proposed extradition laws.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has urged protesters and Hong Kong authorities to avoid further violence amid concerns over new extradition laws that have sparked a civilian uprising.

At least 72 people have been taken to hospitals in Hong Kong after massive protests over the law, which would allow suspected criminals to be sent to the Chinese mainland, escalated.

Hong Kong police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who had massed outside government headquarters on Wednesday.
Hong Kong police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who had massed outside government headquarters on Wednesday.
AAP

The federal government has a "substantial interest" in Hong Kong, which is home to one of Australia's biggest expatriate communities and Australian-backed businesses.

"Australia supports the right of people to protest peacefully and to exercise their freedom of speech, and we urge all sides to show restraint and avoid violence," she said.

Marise Payne has called for calm.
Marise Payne has called for calm.
AAP

However, Australia's Consul-General in Hong Kong has raised concerns about the proposed laws at "senior levels" within the Beijing-backed government.

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Protesters run from tear gas in violent clash with Hong Kong police
Protesters run from tear gas in violent clash with Hong Kong police

"The Australian government believes it is important that any changes to Hong Kong's extradition arrangements are ... resolved in a way that fully respects Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and upholds the rights and freedoms enshrined in Hong Kong's Basic Law under the 'one country, two systems' framework," Senator Payne said in a statement.

Protester trying to use water to put out the tear gas which the police used against them.
Protester trying to use water to put out the tear gas which the police used against them.
SIPA USA

The legal changes would allow the extradition of people, including Australians living or travelling through Hong Kong, to mainland China for suspected criminal acts.

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Hong Kong leader says extradition bill will not be scrapped
Hong Kong leader says extradition bill will not be scrapped

Hong Kong Police used rubber bullets and tear gas on protesters, who have vowed to continue fighting the proposed bill.

Thousands of protesters occupied the roads near the Legislative Council Complex in Hong Kong to demand to government to withdraw extradition bill.
Thousands of protesters occupied the roads near the Legislative Council Complex in Hong Kong to demand to government to withdraw extradition bill.
SIPA USA

Australia has updated its travel advice for Hong Kong, telling its citizens to avoid large public gatherings.

Control of the former British territory was handed to China in 1997.

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