The Latest: Police, protesters face off ahead of debate
HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on the controversy over Hong Kong’s extradition laws (all times local):
Government officials in Hong Kong are bracing for a showdown as protesters and police face off into the early morning hours outside the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s legislature ahead of Wednesday’s debate over changes allowing extradition to the Chinese mainland.
The Hong Kong government says its Legislative Council Complex will suspend some services.
The U.S. Consulate also issued an alert warning people to avoid the area and to keep a low profile.
The scene outside of the building was tense but calm with the presence of officers in riot gear and protesters. One demonstrator waived the Britain’s flag in front of police vans.
Opponents of the proposed extradition changes say it will erode Hong Kong’s judicial independence and Western-style freedoms as promised to the former British colony since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Protesters in Hong Kong opposed to legislation that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China are gathering outside the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s legislature amid plans for further demonstrations and strike actions on Wednesday morning.
The administration of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam plans to open debate on the legal amendments on Wednesday. Opponents say making it easier to send suspects to China constitutes an erosion of Hong Kong’s judicial independence and Western-style freedoms.
A protest Sunday against the legislation brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets.
The planned legal changes have become a lightning rod for concerns about Beijing’s increasing control over the former British colony, which retained its own legal and social institutions after its return to Chinese rule in 1997.
The head of Hong Kong’s legislature has announced the schedule for debate on contentious changes to the territory’s extradition laws, setting a vote by June 20.
Legislature President Andrew Leung said Tuesday that he had accepted 153 out of 238 proposed amendments to the bills. He said there would be 66 hours for debate.
Hundreds of thousands of people protested against the legislation on Sunday in the largest demonstration in Hong Kong in more than a decade.
The turnout reflected growing apprehension about relations with the Communist Party-ruled mainland.
Local media reports in Hong Kong say police are mobilizing thousands of additional officers to keep order amid calls for protesters to begin gathering Tuesday night to oppose a highly contentious extradition bill.
Some businesses have also announced plans to close on Wednesday and scattered reports told of students planning to boycott classes.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory over the weekend to protest the legislative proposal that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. The protest appeared to be Hong Kong’s largest in more than a decade and reflected growing apprehension about relations with the Communist Party-ruled mainland.
The full Hong Kong legislature is expected to resume debate on the amendments on Wednesday, and a vote is expected this month.