Hong Kong is hit by another massive rally, with people flooding the streets to demand a backdown on a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China. Tear gas and pepper spray have been used to tackle the unrest.
An estimated tens of thousands of residents of Hong Kong surrounded the Chinese-ruled local legislature on Wednesday, voicing unease over an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China to stand trial there. As the rally grew bigger, some protesters, mostly young people dressed in black, began erecting barricades around the area.
Protesters have also rallied in and around Lung Wo Road, a main east-west motorway running near the offices of embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The massive protest saw hundreds of officers, many wearing riot gear and equipped with batons and plastic shields, preparing to stop the crowd’s advance.
As the situation grew tenser, some protesters tried to push inside the city council, moving barricades and throwing umbrellas and other objects at officers. Police fired tear gas and pepper spray, and deployed water cannons in response.
Those taking part in the rally seem to be preparing for a long standoff, with first-aid tents and supply stations set up around the city. At various locations, water and other amenities have been distributed by activists.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government said it will delay the debate on the bill until further notice. The proposed legislation stoked fears that Beijing will be able to use it to target political opponents critical of the Chinese government.
Chinese officials have reiterated that they will continue to support Hong Kong’s government. During a press briefing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang repeatedly said Beijing backs the extradition bill and warned against meddling in Hong Kong’s domestic affairs.
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