Hong Kong: Hong Kong activists opposed to contentious extradition legislation on Wednesday 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.
Groups of protesters gathered outside the U.S. and EU consulates Wednesday morning to deliver petitions stating their requests.
A spokesman said 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.
Activists planned to present petitions at 19 consulates in total and planned further protest actions for Wednesday evening following an expected vote of no-confidence in the local legislature on the administration of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Government supporters have a solid majority in the assembly and the measure is not expected to pass.
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. (Agency)
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