Hong Kong activists opposed to contentious extradition legislation yesterday called on leaders of the U.S., the European Union and others to raise the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping at this week’s G-20 summit in Japan.
Beijing has strongly opposed such a development, saying Hong Kong matters are strictly an internal Chinese affair.
Opponents say changes to the Chinese territory’s legislation could expose citizens of all nationalities to being extradited to China for unfair trials and possible torture, reducing Hong Kong’s judicial independence and the civil liberties it retained after the handover from British rule in 1997.
Hong Kong is an international city whose residents will all be affected by the legislation, regardless of their country of origin, said protester Mandy Wong, a college student.
“That’s why this is necessary for other countries or overseas people to pay attention to this extradition bill,” said Wong, 25.
Activists held up placards attacking the legislation and chanted slogans including “Free Hong Kong.”
Protesters aimed to present petitions at 19 consulates in total yesterday and planned further protest actions leading into the evening.
Lam’s push to pass the extradition bills has prompted hundreds of thousands of people to fill Hong Kong’s streets in protest marches, while smaller groups have surrounded government offices, the legislature and police headquarters. They are demanding the total withdrawal of the legislation and accountability for heavy-handed police treatment of protesters at a protest earlier this month during which tear gas and rubber bullets were fired.
Lam has shelved the legislation and apologized for not better handling the matter but has declined to respond to other demands.
Several foreign governments, along with legal, commercial, human rights and media groups in Hong Kong, have expressed concern about the legislation as well as the Hong Kong government’s handling of the protests.
In a statement Tuesday in the House of Commons, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he raised the issue with Lam on June 12.
Britain urges Hong Kong to establish a “robust, independent investigation” into the violence against protesters, and will not issue further export licenses for crowd control equipment to Hong Kong “unless we are satisfied that concerns raised on human rights and fundamental freedoms have been thoroughly addressed,” Hunt said.
China says it fully backs Lam’s administration’s and has rejected foreign commentary over the protests and the extradition issue as interference in its internal affairs.
At a briefing in Beijing Monday, Zhang Jun, an assistant foreign minister, said, “I can tell you that for sure the G-20 will not discuss the issue of Hong Kong and we will not allow the G-20 to discuss the issue of Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong’s government “has taken a series of measures to safeguard fairness and justice of society and to block loopholes in the legal system. We believe what they have done is completely necessary and the central government supports these measures,” he said. Katie Tam, Hong Kong, AP