Despite protests, pro-Beijing leader claims won’t withdraw extradition bill

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader on Monday said she had no plans to withdraw the controversial bill that allows criminal extraditions to mainland Chinese, a day after an estimated one million people marched through the streets to oppose the proposal.

“This is a very important piece of legislation that will help to uphold justice and also ensure that Hong Kong will fulfil her international obligations in terms of cross-boundary and transnational crimes,” Al Jazeera quoted Chief Executive Carrie Lam as saying.

“The bill will resume its second reading on the June 12,” Lam added.

Riot police surrounded Hong Kong’s parliament on Monday after a mass rally turned violent as several hundred protesters clashed with police, who responded with pepper spray before the standoff ended, plunging the autonomous state into a new political crisis.

Ignoring the huge public backlash, Lam said her administration had already made major concessions to ensure that the city’s unique freedoms would be protected and that the bill’s human rights safeguards met international standards.

“I and my team have not ignored any views expressed on this very important piece of legislation. We have been listening and listening very attentively,” she said.

Heaping pressure on Lam’s administration, demonstrators also asked called on her to resign.

Sunday’s protests marked the biggest march in the city in the past 15 years (the last in 2003), as people protested against the China extradition bill that would allow criminal suspects in the city to be sent to mainland China for trial.

On April 3, Hong Kong had proposed this bill, which, critics believe, will leave anyone on Hong Kong soil vulnerable to being grabbed by the Chinese authorities for political reasons or inadvertent business offences.

They further reasoned that the newly framed extradition plan would dissolve the rights and legal protections, which were guaranteed under the city’s handover from British colonial rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.


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