Monday 22 July 2019

Support wavers for controversial Hong Kong bill

Demonstration: Protesters take to the streets in Hong Kong. Photo: Jorge Silva
Demonstration: Protesters take to the streets in Hong Kong. Photo: Jorge Silva

John Ruwitch

Cracks appeared yesterday in the support base for a proposed Hong Kong law to allow extraditions to China, while opponents of the bill said they would stage more demonstrations after hundreds of thousands took to the streets.

The extradition bill, which will cover Hong Kong residents and foreign and Chinese nationals living or traveling in the city, has many concerned it may threaten the rule of law that underpins Hong Kong's international financial status.

Opposition to the bill triggered the former British colony's biggest political demonstration since its return to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" deal. The agreement guarantees Hong Kong's special autonomy, including freedom of assembly, free press and independent judiciary.

China has been accused of extensive meddling since, including obstruction of democratic reforms, interference with elections and of being behind the disappearance of five Hong Kong-based booksellers who specialised in works critical of Chinese leaders.

The extradition bill has so spooked some in Hong Kong that some of the territory's tycoons have started moving personal wealth offshore.

A key adviser to Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, Executive Council member Bernard Chan, told Cable TV: "I definitely say that right now it's not possible, at a time when there are such intense divisions, to keep discussing this issue. The difficulty is very high."

Organisers have urged people to take to the streets tomorrow and protesters have applied for a permit to gather on Monday. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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