See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Politics

Mass protest in Hong Kong over extradition law

Proposed changes to extradition law in Hong Kong draws record number to the streets.


Written by

Updated: June 10, 2019

In what organisers described as the biggest protest seen in the territory since it was returned to the Chinese by the British in 1997, hundreds of thousands took to the streets on Sunday (June 9) to pressure the government to undo changes to an unpopular extradition law which critics charged could be used against opponents of Beijing.

The rally came ahead  of the second reading of the legislation on Wednesday (June 12) as the government moves to secure its quick passage with the backing of pro-establishment lawmakers.

Rally organisers, the Civil Human Rights Front, a coalition of pro-democracy groups estimated the turnout at more than half a million but police put the figure at 240,000.

“Peoples’ power is very strong. We believe that if we come out and we say what we believe in, it can bring change, we have seen it happen in the past,” Ms Omana said, referring to agitation previously against proposed tighter national security laws.

In 2003, some 500,000 people hit the streets to oppose the government plans on the national security laws which were later shelved.

Another protester, Benjamin L, 42, said he believed many of those who openly support the government were secretly opposed to the changes to the extradition law “but they need Hong Kong people to come out and protest, to give them some courage to say no”.

The Bill, which could be passed by the end of June, is meant to allow Hong Kong to hand over fugitives to various jurisdictions, such as Taiwan and mainland China.

It came about after a Hong Kong resident, Chan Tong-kai, confessed to killing his girlfriend in Taiwan last year, but he remains in the city as it does not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

The proposed changes were floated in February and subsequently scaled back twice after wide opposition, including from businessmen, diplomats, local and foreign business chambers, lawyers and journalists.

The massive turnout on Sunday is expected to add to mounting pressure for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to drop the proposed changes. Mrs Lam has said there is no going back.

On May 30, the government said it would allow suspects or fugitives to be extradited if their offence is punishable by seven years’ jail instead of three years’ jail, which was already a departure from the one year stated previously.

The government has also assured that there are sufficient human rights safeguards and protection of the local judiciary.

But Ms Suki Chung, 39, of Amnesty International in Hong Kong said these safeguards are not written into the law itself.

“It is actually a very dangerous threat to Hong Kong people, in particular to human rights defenders, people like us in non-governmental organisations. We are actually facing the risk of being extradited any time soon by any excuse by the Chinese government,” she said.

The massive turnout on Sunday meant that thousands were still gathered at Victoria Park, waiting to march, four hours after the rally began. The first batch of protesters reached the government’s headquarters in Admiralty in under two hours.

Many of the protesters parked themselves around the gates of the complex, demanding a dialogue with the authorities. They said their sit-in would remain until Wednesday, if no dialogue was possible on Sunday night.

The rally kicked off earlier at 2.20pm, 40 minutes earlier than scheduled as Victoria Park became too crowded. Some of those who gathered were spotted carrying yellow umbrellas – a symbol of the 2014 Umbrella Movement that brought the city’s main arteries to a halt for 79 days.

Students accompanied by their parents came, along with the elderly armed with their walking sticks and young couples pushing prams. All made their way slowly in 32 degree heat, chanting “Step down, Carrie Lam!” and “No China extradition, no evil law”.

More than two hours after the rally began, metal barriers toppled and the crowd that initially spread over two lanes, spilled over to occupy all four lanes of Hennessy Road, a main thoroughfare.

The police were forced to open the eastbound lanes of Hennessy Road, kept free for emergency access, after scuffles broke out at a particularly packed section near the Canal Road flyover.

At least seven people were arrested along the protest route for a number of offences including theft, common assault and assaulting police.

The deluge of protesters led to overcrowded trains on the island line and train operator MTR had to initiate crowd control measures at various stations, including at Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok in Kowloon.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Politics

China pledges international pandemic aid

 Producers of medical goods urged to meet demand from affected countries. China has pledged to do its best to offer aid to countries and international organisations affected by COVID-19 to help contain the outbreak, and businesses are being urged to boost production of epidemic prevention materials to meet demand from abroad. The announcement was made at a meeting of the leading group of China’s coronavirus response, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. Relevant departments and local authorities must step up co-ordination to closely monitor and analyse the quick spread of the outbreak outside China and roll out more targeted measures to prevent the import and export of infection, the group said in a statement. It is important to further


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

Back to work in Beijing, with tough measures in place

 Mandatory quarantine for those coming from overseas; some Wuhan businesses may reopen. As most of China attempts to return to normalcy after an extensive lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the capital Beijing has been carefully trying to strike a balance between having people restart work while also trying to keep out imported infections, and yesterday ordered a mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals. This comes as the Hubei government announced that some businesses in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicentre, would gradually be allowed to reopen. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, his first visit to the city since the outbreak, a sign that the crisis could finally be easing after the government’s toug


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

Xi vows victory over coronavirus in Wuhan

President expresses condolences to families of people who died in epidemic. President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak remains the top priority and most important task, even amid the recent positive signs. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark during his inspection tour in the outbreak’s epicentre, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The spread of the novel coronavirus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said, adding that initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi encouraged local residents and front-line worke


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

China sets example in fighting virus

Epidemic reveals inadequacies in global governance; Beijing says it’s ready to help. China’s response to novel coronavirus pneumonia has set an example for the world in coping with the contagion and offered experience in advancing global public health governance, officials and experts said. The COVID-19 outbreak has also raised the alarm about global public health security and reminded countries that co-operation and co-ordination are needed to deal with challenges as infectious diseases can rapidly escalate into global emergencies, they said. There is a growing positive momentum in epidemic control nationwide thanks to the “comprehensive, thorough and rigorous” measures that China has taken to contain the virus, they said, noting that the daily


By China Daily
March 10, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

More than 800,000 people return Beijing under quarantine

“There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. About 827,000 people who came back to Beijing from outside the city are still in a 14-day quarantine to see if they had been infected with the novel coronavirus, an official said on Friday. “There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. Z


By China Daily
March 9, 2020

Diplomacy, Politics

South Korea declares third city as special care zone as cases spike

President Moon receives letter of support from North Korean leader as infected cases cross 6,000. South Korea has declared a third city a “special care zone” to boost its capability to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, with cases nationwide soaring beyond 6,000. The death toll stands at 42, mostly the elderly with underlying health conditions, while 88 people have recovered, including 47 discharged yesterday. The care zone announcement came as the presidential Blue House revealed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a letter on Wednesday from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressing support and comfort to the people battling the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he is confident they will “prevail in this fight wit


By The Straits Times
March 6, 2020