December 12, 2019

Protesters, police fight pitched battles after historic ‘million-strong’ march against Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill turns violent

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By Su Xinqi  Alvin Lum  Phila Siu  Shirley Zhao  Linda Lew  From South Morning Post

  • Officers, protesters suffer injuries, some needing hospital treatment, as police use batons and pepper spray to beat back mob of masked demonstrators
  • Hours earlier peaceful mass rally drew historic numbers onto the streets to oppose government’s controversial extradition bill


As it happened: How ’s protest march against the extradition bill turned ugly

  • Officers, protesters suffer injuries, some needing hospital treatment, as police use batons and pepper spray to beat back mob of masked demonstrators
  • Hours earlier peaceful mass rally drew historic numbers onto the streets to oppose government’s controversial extradition bill

Hundreds of protesters fought pitched battles with police outside Hong Kong’s legislature and administrative headquarters late into Sunday night and early Monday morning, bringing a violent end to a peaceful mass rally that drew historic numbers onto the streets to oppose the government’s controversial extradition bill.Officers and protesters suffered injuries, some needing hospital treatment, as police used batons and pepper spray to beat back a mob of masked demonstrators trying to storm the Legislative Council building.

Hundreds of protesters started gathering around the legislature after the main mass rally, which organisers claimed was joined by more than 1 million people, came to an end at around 10pm.

While a large police contingent guarded the compound, two pro-independence groups, Student Localism and the Students Independent Union, called on the protesters to stay after the rally and storm the legislature.

At around midnight, hundreds of them, many wearing masks, dashed towards the police lines, aiming to force their way into the legislature.

The protesters took over the metal barricades surrounding the building and used them to attack police trying to push them back.

In the ensuing chaos, they hurled bottles at officers who responded with batons and pepper spray. Some protesters were wrestled to the ground and taken away.

Video footage showed at least one officer with a bleeding face as he was rushed to safety by his colleagues. A protester was also shown bleeding from his face.

The chaos lasted for about 30 minutes.

Riot police were brought in, and they had largely controlled or cleared out the demonstration area at Legco at 12.30am, issuing repeated warnings for those still around to leave.

But the stand-off continued, and by 1am, diehard protesters had reorganised themselves to take over Lung Wo Road, heavily barricading the area that was the scene of bigger clashes during the 2014 Occupy movement for greater democracy.

Masks were handed out to those joining their ranks for the confrontation.

Police then began charging the protest lines, beating them back and scattering them in different directions.

A 20-year-old protester, surnamed Cheng, had joined the march with five friends but lost contact with them in the melee.

“I’m concerned about them and about myself,” he said. “But I’m even more concerned about the extradition bill.”

By 2am, the last of the protesters had been driven all the way back to Gloucester Road in Wan Chai, where they began a new stand-off with police outside Immigration Tower.

Police corralled the last holdouts together, hemming them in between Gloucester Rd and the wall of the Church of Jesus Christ, next to old Wan Chai police station.

Officers said the protesters had taken part in an illegal assembly and began taking the names of those present. Only those carrying illegal items or who were already wanted by police were detained immediately.

Police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung, meanwhile, visited three injured officers at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam at about 2.30am.

He strongly condemned the violence by protesters, who he said had damaged the tradition of peaceful demonstrations and vowed that the force would pursue all those who had taken part.

“If they really have ideals and want Hong Kong to be good, can they help by doing this tonight?” he asked, referring to the violence and “meaningless” act of charging the Legco complex.

Lo said the march was generally conducted peacefully apart from some radical and violent protesters who constantly provoked officers and tried to get other marchers to charge police lines.

When asked about police deployment on Wednesday when the second reading of the contentious bill would resume in Legco, Lo said the force would prepare enough manpower.

Earlier on Sunday, the Civil Human Rights Front declared that 1.03 million people had taken part in the mass rally, double the turnout of the 2003 protest against the government’s push for national security legislation.

This time they were out to oppose the bill which would allow the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no extradition deal, including mainland China.

As it happened: How Hong Kong’s protest march against the extradition bill turned ugly

  • Mob storms metal barricades, police respond with batons and pepper spray
  • Melee still under way at Legco as police try to disperse angry crowd

Published: 2:33pm, 9 Jun, 2019

Barriers block Lung Wo Road. Photo: Xinqi Su1 / 2437

A protest march ended in violence at the Legislative Council when a mob stormed barricades and police responded with batons and pepper spray.  

What began as a peaceful protest, and held for nearly 10 hours, turned sour after midnight. Ugly scenes of violence erupted outside the Legislative Council as a mob stormed steel barricades. Police responded with batons and pepper spray as news cameras rolled.The day started with hundreds of thousands of people flooding the streets to oppose the government’s extradition bill in the most unified protest march in the city in more than a decade. Some called it the ultimate showdown over the bill, which will resume its second reading on June 12 and if passed would allow the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions the city had no previous agreement with.

Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as Hongkongers fromall walks of life have spoken out against the proposal. Petitions against the bill have circulated, thousands of lawyers staged a silent march and several chambers of commerce have voiced concerns. The bill’s proponents, notably the city’s administration, see it as a vital tool to fight transnational crimeand maintain the rule of law.

Our live blog below captures how events unfolded.2:43AMCoverage wraps

As the stand-off continues into the night, we are ending our coverage. Please look out for our full report coming out shortly.Updated at 2:43AM2:40AMBus stop signs, bins used as barricades on road

Protesters have used bus stop signs and rubbish bins as barricades as the stand-off continues. 

One activist whose face is covered with green cloth is taking a break. “I’m only a normal citizen. I’m here because the only thing Hong Kong still has is unity. We don’t have weapons or anything.”

He voices discontent with the government’s official response to the march earlier in the day, saying authorities do not respect the people’s will. 

“I’ve thought about the risk of getting hurt or arrested. But I guess I’ll just get a lawyer,” he says.

Updated at 2:36AM2:18AMCars diverted

Cars heading eastwards on Gloucester Road have to be diverted after protesters set up metal barricades. 

Updated at 2:18AM2:10AMChaos shifts to Gloucester Road

Protesters are now on Gloucester Road, off Revenue Tower. They chant: “No extradition to China!”

A stand-off is developing again between the most boisterous members in the crowd and police. 

Updated at 2:12AM2:04AM’Open the roads’

Near Central, hundreds of protesters, who have been pushed back by police, raise their hands and chant “open the roads”.

Updated at 2:03AM1:58AMCrowds spill into Wan Chai as police push back

Several hundred protesters are being driven by officers to Lung King Street in Wan Chai, with only stragglers – closely watched by police – remaining in previous hot spots near Legco, such as on Harcourt Road, Legislative Council Road and Lung Wo Road. 

Updated at 1:47AM1:46AMCrowds driven in the direction of Wan Chai

Police are struggling to control protesters in a territorial game of cat and mouse. As the action heats up on Lung Wo Road, officers are pushing people towards the Wan Chai direction. Amid the chaos, journalists are also being warned by police to move. 

Updated at 1:45AM1:40AMProtesters chased off Harcourt Road

Police have chased most of the Harcourt Road protesters to Queensway, with officers and vans barricading key entrances to prevent them from coming back. But people are still shouting and crowds remain rowdy. 

Updated at 1:38AM1:35AMClashes shift to Lung Wo

Both sides have now converged on Lung Wo Road, on the harbour side of the Legco building. Protesters have barricaded themselves from officers but some members of the force have found a way into the area as clashes continue. 

Updated at 1:35AM1:31AMPolice blocked at junction

Protesters are pulling metal barriers onto the junction of Legco Road and Lung Wo Road to block police. 

Updated at 1:39AM1:20AMLung Wo Road new focus for protesters

Some protesters are channeling their numbers to Lung Wo Road, next to Legco but on the opposite side from Harcourt Road. At a tunnel along the stretch of road, some have also moved metal barricades over to block the opening. 

Updated at 1:42AM1:12AMRadical protesters appear to be very young

Many of the violent protesters are masked, with some appearing very young. A group is forming back at the Legco Complex. 

Updated at 1:10AM1:03AMHarcourt Road stand-off dispersed

Police armed with helmets and shields have dispersed more than 100 protesters at a stand-off on Harcourt Road, and pushed protesters back on the pavements. Crowds were rowdy but there was limited physical clashes between both sides. A shouting match has erupted between protesters and officers. 

Updated at 1:02AM12:56AMBarricades tug of war

On roads near Legco, a mad scramble for metal barricades has broken out. 

Updated at 12:54AM12:53AM’Serious injuries to officers’

Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung, from the force’s public relations branch, says police strongly condemn the violent acts of protesters. He says protesters had used metallic barricades, metal rods and other items to attack officers at the scene, intentionally breaking a car park gate and other property.

Police used batons and pepper spray after warnings proved futile.  He also says protesters had caused serious injuries to officers. Updated at 1:00AM12:50AMStill chaos outside Legco

Officers in riot gear at a demonstration area in Legco charge back at crowds to secure the zone. 

Updated at 12:48AM12:46AMPolice outnumbered on Lung Wo Road

 On Lung Wo Road, police attempt to dispel protesters, but are outnumbered as people push barricades against officers. 

Updated at 12:46AM12:44AMStand-off continues as police reinforcements arrive

More officers arrive to boost their numbers as the violence continues. A stand-off on Harcourt Road earlier is still under way. 

Updated at 12:43AM12:33AMPolice warn: ‘We will use appropriate force’

Police warn protesters that they are attending an illegal gathering and should leave immediately. They are told that if they refuse, officers will “command appropriate force”. 

Updated at 12:32AM12:28AMProtesters block anti-riot police

Anti-riot officers arrive but they are being blocked by protesters as the violence continues. 

Updated at 12:59AM12:27AMInjured officer taken into Legco building

An injured officer is seen being taken by colleagues into the Legco building, away from the violence. Police have donned riot gear as they brace for the surging crowds. Some hit back with batons, as objects including metal barricades are flung at officers. 

Updated at 12:25AM12:23AMBlood on the ground, arrests made

Blood stains are seen on the ground as fights escalate. Two protesters are seen being taken by police into the Legco building.

Updated at 12:26AM12:21AMViolence escalates

Barriers have been smashed as all manner of objects are flung at officers, who respond with pepper spray. 

Updated at 12:21AM12:20AMAll masked persons to be stopped and searched

Everyone wearing masks must be stopped and searched, police say, as mayhem breaks out.Updated at 12:21AM12:15AMBarricades hurled at police as protest turns ugly

The protest at Legco has turned ugly, with bottles, and metal barricades thrown at police.

Updated at 12:15AM12:13AMProtesters try to storm Legco

Clashes have broken out between thousands of protesters and officers. Radicals are responding to calls from pro-independence groups, throwing objects at police and pushing barricades. Police are using pepper spray on people. 

Updated at 12:12AM12:07AMProtesters push against police, asking for more support

The atmosphere on Harcourt Road is very tense, with protesters pushing against police. They are shouting for more people to come down to back them up. Officers so far have remained calm. 

Updated at 12:10AM12:03AMLawmakers call for calm

Some protesters outside Legco are moving metal barricades, but the action only lasts minutes as lawmakers plead for them to stop. 

Updated at 12:03AM11:59PMRoad off ‘Civic Square’ becomes gathering point

Tim Mei Avenue outside the so-called Civic Square has become a gathering point for protesters. People are coming from Legco and Harcourt Road. Some continue to be in the thick of the stand-off with police on Harcourt. 

Updated at 12:01AM11:56PMEmotions run high on Harcourt Road

Crowds at Legco are moving towards the centre of a stand-off between protesters and police on Harcourt Road. Officers have inched back to allow room for people on the road to return to the sidewalk, but protesters are refusing to budge. 

A woman in pink yells for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to step down, and people are cheering her on. Some shout for more people to join them on the road. 

A woman is shouting in Mandarin to officers: “Don’t be like police on the mainland!”

Updated at 12:03AM11:44PMPolice gather at Legco

With under 20 minutes until the permit for march organisers expires, police are gathering at the Legislative Council Complex. Around 200 people are sitting in a covered demonstration area at the building, while more are at an open-air area.

A stand-off is heating up between officers and protesters on the westbound lane of Harcourt Road. 

Updated at 11:52PM11:35PMGovernment responds

A government spokesman says: “Throughout the past four months, the government has listened attentively to views, and have expressed and responded positively to suggestions made. As a result, two sets of amendments were made.”He adds: “The procession today is an example of Hong Kong people exercising their freedom of expression within their rights enshrined in the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. “We urge the Legislative Council to scrutinise the bill in a calm, reasonable and respectful manner to help ensure Hong Kong remains a safe city for residents and business.”The bill is set to be put to a vote on June 12 in Legco. Updated at 11:59PM11:30PMPolice urge crowds to move as they prepare to open road to cars

More than an hour after the official end of the march, hundreds of protesters still remain on Harcourt Road, with a long line of police vans and officers standing guard.

Police are urging people to move to the pavement as they prepare to allow traffic back on the road.

Updated at 11:48PM11:21PMNew line of march-goers … at McDonald’s

Queues form at a McDonald’s outlet in Admiralty as hungry and thirsty crowds who have gathered near the Legco Complex after the march spill into nearby areas. 

Updated at 11:20PM11:18PMProtesters on Legislative Council Road stand their ground

Updated at 11:18PM11:16PMSold out

Most beverages at 7-11 convenience stores around Admiralty Centre are sold out, with only coffee remaining. 

Updated at 11:15PM10:58PMSit-ins in Admiralty

Some 500 people are estimated to be around Admiralty Centre and its Harcourt Road side, while groups seemingly comprising young people are camped outside Legco.

Updated at 11:18PM10:53PM’Price of civil disobedience increasingly high’

Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, says: “In any place where there are 1.03 million people marching … any government should listen to people’s demands.

“If the government does not listen, it will be too pathetic.”

Sham says he does not know what other groups are planning to do after the march tonight.

“The price of civil disobedience has become increasingly high,” he says. “We should ask the government why it has to force its young people and citizens to this point.”

Updated at 10:55PM10:42PMPro-independence groups intend to stay outside Legco until June 12

Two pro-independence groups, Studentlocalism and Students Independence Union, say they will stay outside Legco until June 12, when the extradition bill is put to a vote.

They say further plans will be made on June 11. They stress they will not attack police, but will retaliate with the same amount of force if provoked. Updated at 11:07PM10:34PMHundreds camp outside Legco

Hundreds of people are sitting outside Legco, on the ground in a demonstration area. 

Localist group Demosisto is still camped outside the building’s car park entrance. They have inched away from a barricade. March-goers who sat with them earlier have mostly left. 

Updated at 10:36PM10:19PMFire put out

A fire earlier spotted near the Bank of America Tower in Admiralty has been put out. Police say it is unclear how it started or who was behind the act. 

Updated at 10:19PM10:15PMPolice urge protesters to leave

Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung from the force’s public relations branch appeals to protesters – at the march destination in Admiralty and those still in the tail end of the procession – to leave, as the area around government headquarters fills up. He says a growing number of protesters are seen along pavements on Harcourt Road, with more of them donning surgical masks and refusing to move forward, holding up the line behind. 

Kong says the Special Tactical Squad has been deployed because of a perceived increase in threat to public safety. Kong urges protesters not to dash out onto the roads. 

Updated at 10:14PM10:10PMTime lapse video

A time lapse video gives some perspective on the size of Sunday’s protest

Updated at 10:10PM10:08PMOrganisers challenge Carrie Lam and lawmakers

Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, says the last time the city saw 1 million people in a protest was in May 1989, when crowds took to the streets to show support for pro-democracy activists in Beijing. He says it is sad that Hong Kong needed 1 million people to come out against an extradition bill. 

He hopes that Carrie Lam will give protesters a response on Monday, and urges pro-establishment lawmakers to face the public.

Organisers have announced the end of the rally, but they will wait unit 11.59pm, when the official time allocated to the event expires. This is for those who are still in the tail end of the procession.

Updated at 10:03PM10:01PMFire near Bank of America Tower

A fire is seen near the Bank of America Tower in Admiralty, but details are unclear. 

Updated at 10:11PM9:59PMOne in seven Hongkongers march

If the organisers’ estimate is correct…

Updated at 9:59PM9:52PMPolice urge marchers at tail end to speed up

Police ask protesters at the tail end of the march to move faster at the intersection of Queen’s Road East and Hennessy Road.

Updated at 9:52PM9:49PMCalm mood on Harcourt Road

A group occupies a section of Harcourt Road, but the mood remains calm. Meanwhile, a man with his face half-covered earlier ran up a bridge to urge protesters to occupy the road. He removed his mask and shouted through a loudspeaker, but the crowd below told him to come down, refusing to be roused. 

Photo: Daryl ChooUpdated at 9:51PM9:36PM1.03 million turnout for protest march, organisers say

The Civil Human Rights Front has announced that 1.03 million people turned up for the protest march. Police put the figure at 240,000 at its peak, which is even lower than the 350,000 they estimated for the 2003 march against the national security bill. 

Updated at 9:43PM9:29PMTail end moves along

The tail end of the march has just crossed the intersection of Fenwick Street and Hennessy Road.

Updated at 9:28PM9:24PM’Occupy the street! Marching is useless!’

A man with his face half-covered with black cloth shouts to the crowd on Harcourt Road: “I saw some people saying this is the ‘last fight’ online. I thought how great you guys are. But you are just standing here. Will the government listen to you? Dash out onto the street! Why did the government listen to us and talk to us in 2014? Because we occupied some areas. Marching is useless!” 

Meanwhile, some protesters sit along street dividers as police stand guard, calling to mind similar scenes at the start of Occupy in 2014. 

Updated at 9:22PM9:13PMTail end of march passes Wan Chai

March organisers say they will declare an official figure on attendance soon, and are still waiting for people to cross checkpoints along the way. The tail end of the procession has passed the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong Headquarters in Wan Chai. Updated at 9:13PM9:10PMCall to occupy road in Admiralty

Someone can be heard calling on the crowd to occupy the road under Admiralty Centre Shopping Arcade.

“Do you think the government will listen to you if you are only marching? What did we do five years ago?”

Some people, however, shouted: “Peace!”Updated at 9:10PM8:52PMPolice in bullet-proof jackets

Police wearing bullet-proof jackets are standing outside the Admiralty Centre, blocking the crowd. They were earlier spotted leaving Wan Chai police headquarters.

Updated at 8:58PM8:49PMCrowds gather in their thousands outside LegcoCrowds are gathering outside Legco, with about 100 people sitting down along with Demosisto members at a sealed car park entrance to the building. The area is next to the so-called Civic Square, a popular protest ground for previous movements. 

Updated at 9:06PM8:38PMMarch organiser advises protesters to put safety first

The Civil Human Rights Front says it has no further plans tonight, but other groups may have. It advises protesters to make their own decisions and observe safety first. Security guards at Legco close gates to the building as protesters gather outside. 

Updated at 9:05PM8:33PM’Masked men tried to run into traffic’

Senior Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch Kong Wing-cheung says five to six masked men tried to run into traffic on Harcourt Road in Admiralty, then tried to resist and fight off officers. 

Kong said one officer used pepper spray against the men but they ran away towards Admiralty Road.  “We strongly condemn such irresponsible behaviour,” Kong says. “We will not tolerate this and will follow up on it seriously.”

Kong also condemns some protesters who he said tried to block off the route of the march to stop other protesters from moving.

A dozen protesters from localist group Demosisto are sitting in front of the metal barricade blocking the car park entrance of Legco. They call on march-goers to join them.

Several young women are seen scuffling with five police officers, trying to prevent police from approaching other members. Meanwhile, many participants from the march sit down along Harcourt Road, as police stand guard. 

Updated at 8:48PM8:26PMMTR chaos … again

Those leaving the march have flooded Admiralty station, creating a bottleneck similar to the ones at the start of the march. 

Updated at 8:25PM8:22PM’I have always believed in Hongkongers’

Director Shu Kei, who is also the producer behind documentaries on the 2014 Occupy movement, says the government has no excuse to ignore protesters. “Or else, on June 12, there will be another huge crowd turning up to put pressure on them,” he adds, referring to the date on which Legco votes on the bill.

He says he spent hours on a Wan Chai footbridge and felt touched watching the crowds pass. “I have always believed in Hongkongers, because they will always show up when it matters most, and will not be defeated [by the result of Occupy].”

Updated at 9:31PM8:21PMFormer legislator chants against Lam

Disqualified lawmaker Lau Siu-lai chants for Carrie Lam to step down.

A group of people are in a stand-off with police outside Legco. They say officers had blocked off the Harcourt Road entrance at the building for a while, before partly opening the lane. They demand that police open the road to crowds. 

Updated at 8:20PM8:11PMPolice use pepper spray

Officers had to use pepper spray on about 10 protesters on Harcourt Road after they tried to lay metal barricades on the road.

One man was almost arrested by police but others helped him escape.

As the tail of the march passes Hysan Place on Hennessy Road, the Democratic Party unpacks protest flags. 

Updated at 8:05PM8:03PMBerlin: ‘Still connected to Hong Kong’

Meanwhile, in Berlin, Germany, a protest against the extradition bill in Hong Kong started at noon. Organisers estimate about 100 to 200 people took part. There is no march, but for two hours, individuals took turns sharing their views about developments halfway around the world. The gathering is outside the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office. 

Fung Ching-ching, 23, an economics exchange student, says: “I am very moved to see that Hong Kong people in so many different cities are protesting. It’s very touching to know they are connected to Hong Kong even though they don’t live there anymore.”

Updated at 7:57PM7:50PMYouthful voices

Youngsters are among those in the thick of the action. 

Michelle Lam, 22, says it is the first march she has joined since the Occupy movement in 2014. “I had the feeling that we couldn’t do anything to change our government,” Lam says. “But this time I decided to come out because this bill is trying to strip us of our rights.”

She says however that she will not join the action to surround Legco as she has a prior engagement with a friend. “But I want to, because so many have joined the march and we should wait for them,” Lam says.

She adds that she may feel powerless again if the government takes a tough stand despite the march. “Let’s see what they will do, and what escalation organisers will propose,” she says.

Stella Kwan, 21, a science student at Chinese University, says this is also the first protest march she is attending.

“I feel like a stranger in the city I was born and live in,” she laments, citing what she sees as mainland China’s growing influence on Hong Kong. She is not optimistic the government would shelve the bill. 

“But at least we can tell people we don’t want it,” Kwan says. 

Teacher Alan Lee Ka-cheung, 23, is here with a friend. “It’s too much, the bill can shake Hong Kong’s foundation of freedom,” he says, adding that he hopes the government will respond to protesters’ demands. 

“The government is supposed to serve the people,” he says. “Today so many of us gave up our Sunday to express our demands. The government has to give us an answer.”

Lee says he will stay at the Legco Complex till late, but has not decided on what time to call it a day. 

Updated at 7:53PM7:39PMHKUST team’s estimate: 212,000 protesters

Professor Francis Lui gives an updated figure for the march, putting the number at about 212,000 as of 4.45pm. He was speaking at a press conference over the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s methods to calculate crowd size. 

The HKUST headcount is commissioned by pro-establishment group Hong Kong Institute for Development, funded by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and pro-Beijing politician Elsie Leung Oi-sie.

The team used a combination of manual counting by staff at three sites, multiplied by crowd density in an identified march area, and data from aerial photography. The sites are Victoria Park, Wan Chai and the Legislative Council Complex. 

Lui earlier dismissed organisers’ estimate of more than 500,000 as “not scientific”. He said his team was not able to provide real-time figures. Updated at 7:39PM7:32PM’Keep on going’

Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, vice-chairman of the Labour Party, high-fives passing protesters and encourages them to keep going.

Updated at 7:30PM7:28PMAnger boils into the night

Protesters wave banners against the government, calling for “liars” to step down, and accusing authorities of selling out the city. 

Updated at 7:25PM7:27PMYoung marchers

Hoping…

Updated at 7:27PM7:24PMCars among human traffic

A car is parked in the middle of Yee Wo Street, right smack in traffic. No driver is inside, causing a jam. Elsewhere, traffic grinds to a crawl as vehicles cruise among crowds that have spilled over from the march. 

Updated at 7:29PM7:20PMMarch lumbers on with Causeway Bay still packed

As evening comes, crowds are still in Causeway Bay, near the starting point of Victoria Park as the march lumbers on. 

Updated at 7:16PM7:04PMPolice put turnout for protest at 153,000

The Civil Human Rights Front announces that the turnout is larger than the protest in 2003 when 500,000 people took to the streets against the national security bill. But the front has yet to declare an official figure. Police estimate that 153,000 protesters set off from Victoria Park. The actual turnout is expected to be much higher, as many others joined the march midway. In previous protests, police figures have always indicated peak attendance. 

Updated at 7:25PM7:00PM’More than 500,000′

Dr Rose Wu, the front’s first convenor who organised the July 1 pro-democracy march in 2003, says she has observed a larger turnout today. The previous event saw 500,000 pour into streets in opposition to the national security bill. 

Wu believes today’s event is bigger “because the major roads in Hong Kong Island were soon filled and the crowds could hardly move”.

She says that the number is unlikely to be as high as 1 million, however. 

“I also helped organise a series of protests and rallies in 1989. It doesn’t appear to me that today’s scale has reached that level when we had 1 million on the streets 30 years ago.”

But Wu notes that the urgency and self-mobilisation behind Sunday’s march have surpassed that of the 2003 event. “People are voicing their concerns by forming their own groups, like those for housewives and alumni, instead of institutional platforms. 

“The swift and strong reactions from around the world have also provided a great boost for Hongkongers.”

Updated at 6:54PM6:50PMSmack down on LamPeter Chan Yiu-fai, 21, a student frustrated with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, has turned to the traditional voodoo art of Da Siu Yan

The practice involves a mystic smacking a human-shaped form – made from paper – with a shoe, an act believed to bring bad luck to one’s enemies. 

“I know it may do nothing. But it makes me feel better as a way to vent my anger,” Chan says, adding he feels hopeless about Hong Kong.

He adds that he has joined the march today because it may delay the process. 

Updated at 7:19PM6:47PMUmbrella movements

Protesters take cover on Leighton Road as it begins to rain.

Johnson Yeung Ching-yin, former convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, says he would not be surprised if the turnout reached 1 million. 

“The MTR stations today are more crowded than in 2014, only the stations in Causeway Bay and Tin Hau had occasionally shut down,” he says, referring to the July 1 pro-democracy march that year. “People had to start their march from Fortress Hill today, which was rarely seen in 2014.”

“Moreover, all six lanes on Hennessy Road have been opened for today’s march while in 2014, only three lanes plus the tram rail were opened,” he adds. 

“Despite the wider road, people were not moving faster than back then. So I won’t be surprised if the turnout reaches 1 million if the tail-end of the procession remains in Victoria Park till later this evening.”Yeung notes that for annual July 1 marches, crowds at the end of the rally would have left Victoria Park by 6.30pm or 7pm.

Thousands of protesters raise their arms to form a cross at the sky, chanting: “Oppose extradition to China! Retract the unjust law!”
Then they all put their thumbs down, urging Carrie Lam to step down.

Updated at 6:57PM6:36PMSeven arrested over cases which include assault on police

Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung, from the police’s public relations unit, says seven men were arrested over various offences such as criminal damage on a street booth, theft, common assault and assaulting police. 

The League of Social Democrats says a suspect detained near Canal Road for assaulting officers is one of their members. 

Addressing the invitation from organisers to protesters to surround the legislative complex, Kong says police have to see what kind of activities surface after the march. 

He also dismissed rumours that police gave a turnout of 300,000.

Updated at 10:28PM6:28PMA numbers game

Professor Francis Lui speaks at a press conference over the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s methods to calculate crowd size for the protest. 

The HKUST headcount is commissioned by pro-establishment group Hong Kong Institute for Development, funded by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and pro-Beijing politician Elsie Leung Oi-sie.

Lui says as of 4.09pm, they estimated the turnout to be around 199,500. This was lower than some of the figures put forth by other organisations, which went as high as half a million.

The HKUST team used a combination of manual counting by staff at three sites, multiplied by crowd density in an identified march area, and data from aerial photography. 

“The front’s count has no basis. They go by a visual estimate, which is not scientific,” Lui says of the organiser’s numbers.

He says his team is still counting and it is impossible to provide real-time updates.

Updated at 6:22PM6:21PM

What a mainlander thinks

Wang, a 27-year-old mainlander working in logistics, says he came from Shenzhen to witness the protests.

“I heard about the protests online after bypassing [the mainland’s] firewall. Since I live nearby I decided to check it out.”

“As a Chinese citizen, it’s heartening to know that there is still a place like Hong Kong with democracy and freedom of speech.”

Updated at 6:20PM6:20PMArt of the matter

Updated at 6:22PM6:19PM

Causeway Bay a sea of protesters

More than three hours since the march kicked off, Causeway Bay, where the procession started, is still jam-packed with no signs of the crowd dispersing.

Updated at 6:28PM6:15PM’

I will defend this place till the very end’

Businessman Ben Liang, who came from Shanghai to Hong Kong 20 years ago, is in the march with his daughters, aged 23 and five. He says this is a fight over values, which have set Hong Kong apart from the rest of China. 

Liang claims corruption remains common in the mainland system and its businesses, with little sense in what is right and wrong.

“I am a businessman and I never cared about politics before, but in recent years Hong Kong is deteriorating,” Liang says. “I know the mainland system well, because I’ve been part of it. I hope Hong Kong can still defend what it holds dear.”

“I wouldn’t care if this was just about myself. But I hope to contribute and defend this city. I used to believe Hongkongers can defend [their rights], but now I feel the city has become somewhat similar to Shanghai and Beijing, or even worse. Like our legal system … It’s a joke! But I still want to defend this place, no matter what, until the very end.”

Updated at 6:09PM6:07PM’He loves this place too much’

It is the first time Tristan Yap, 10, and his mother Chan Yin-wah, 56, have joined a march. Chan says they did so because Chief Executive Carrie Lam would not listen to the demands of Hong Kong’s people. 

“We must not let this bill pass,” Chan says. “This is too important to not do anything about it. It’s related to our lives and future.”

She says she once considered migrating as she feels China is increasingly cracking down on freedoms in the city, but gave up on moving because “Tristan would not leave”.

“He loves this place too much,” she says.

 Her son chimes in: “I don’t want to leave … This is where I was born.”

Updated at 6:08PM5:54PM(Not) on the fence

Protesters helping each other get out of Victoria Park, where thousands are still waiting to join the march. 

Updated at 6:09PM5:48PMSheer numbers still stuck outside Sogo

Even with more lanes opened and the front of the procession reaching its destination at government headquarters in Admiralty, Hennessy Road outside the Sogo department store is still a sea of protesters. The area is near the starting point of the event at Victoria Park. 

Updated at 6:03PM5:32PM’

Will anyone believe Carrie Lam any more’?

Barrister Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee calls the march a new start in light of the 2003 protest against the national security law and the 2014 Occupy movement.

“Because we Hongkongers not only took to the streets, but we came here out of our own initiative. We have so many groups, so many schools, even housewives and new immigrants. So many different groups joined the protest out of their own identity as a member of Hong Kong,” Ng says. 

“We should be extraordinarily proud for the innovative actions we have taken.”

Ng says the world has been watching. “Will anyone believe Carrie Lam any more if she continues to claim that there is only a small number of people opposing the bill?”

Updated at 6:09PM5:29PMStill they come

The march is stretching from Admiralty to North Point, at least 4km.

Updated at 5:29PM5:22PMProtesters plan to circle Legco

The Civil Human Rights Front calls on march-goers who have arrived at the Legislative Council Complex to join a rehearsal to circle the building. Organisers urge protesters to stay on at Legco and wait for numbers to build up, readying for a long protest into the night.

Figo Chan, the front’s deputy convener, says the move on Legco is a peaceful, rational and non-violent action, and asks protesters to follow the instructions to walk around Tamar Park and the Legco Complex. 

Protesters outside Legco are told by organisers to make a cross with their arms, symbolising their disapproval of the bill. “No extradition to China. Oppose the evil law,” the crowd shouts.

Updated at 6:09PM5:17PM’We say NO ar’

 Alcohol Salon, a group comprising 20 artists, with a DIY banner saying “no” to the extradition bill.

Updated at 6:10PM5:16PMCrowds still at starting point

The starting point of the march at Victoria Park is still packed even as the front of the procession has already reached its destination at government headquarters in Admiralty. 

Catherine Leung, a finance analyst in her 30s, has been stuck at the park for hours. “I think this is the most crowded one that we’ve been to so far,” she says, comparing her experiences at other rallies. 

“The government has said that even if there are many people coming to the protest, it doesn’t matter, but we just try to do what we can.”

Updated at 6:10PM5:16PM

Anger over blocked roads

Someone has reportedly fainted at the starting point of the march in Victoria Park. Angry protesters, who have been stuck for hours, are hurling expletives and screaming for police to unblock the roads.

Updated at 5:20PM5:14PM

Lanes open and head of march reaches government headquarters

Protesters near Sogo department store are upbeat after police clear all lanes on Hennessy Road. Another line nearby has been opened by police to allow crowds to join the main procession. Before that, some groups have been stuck in the section for more than an hour. 

Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung, from the public relations unit of the force, says the front of the procession reached its destination at government headquarters before 4pm, the speed of the march was optimal. But he also reminds protesters not to jump into the march from other locations along the way, as it would cause congestion and slow down the demonstration.

Updated at 5:25PM5:13PM

Huge crowds

Huge crowds mass to the east of Wan Chai

Updated at 5:16PM5:07PMMarch turnout hits ‘more than 500,000’

As the crowds continue to throng the streets, estimates of the turnout have begun emerging with sources close to the organisers suggesting it could be bigger than half a million, but others such as a team from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology putting the figure at a more conservative 61,000.

The HKUST headcount is commissioned by pro-establishment group Hong Kong Institute for Development, funded by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and pro-Beijing politician Elsie Leung Oi-sie.

Police have yet to give their estimates but accusations are mounting that protestors are being hemmed in.

Updated at 6:10PM5:06PM

Six lanes opened

Protesters cheer as police relent and open the eastbound side of Hennessy Road.

Updated at 5:09PM4:45PM

Carrie Lam ignores questions about protest march

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam leaves the Ocean Park charity event with a smile, looking relaxed. She declines to answer questions on the extradition bill march or on protesters’ demands for her to step down. 

Updated at 6:11PM4:38PM

Ferry across the harbour

Those people who are Kowloon-side but eager to join the march on Hong Kong Island have taken to crossing the harbour by ferry since the trains were inundated with crowds. Long queues now being seen at Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier.

Tin Hau station at around 4pm.

Updated at 6:11PM4:33PM

Police accused of barring protesters

Protesters argue with police at the intersection of Hennessy Road and Canal Road East/Canal Road West as officers stop them from linking up with the procession. “Let us through! Let us through!” they chant.

Oscar Lai, a student leader, says police are deliberately barring protesters from entering the main march. Chaos erupts when some people dash past a police cordon on Hennessy Road. 

Eventually, officers open up a section of the road that was originally closed off, to let crowds through. 

Updated at 6:12PM4:30PM

Protest spills over

Protesters have marched onto a section of Hennessy Road that was previously closed, after demanding that police open more lanes as the sheer numbers grind the procession to a halt. 

Updated at 6:12PM4:28PM

Feeling the beat

Musical accompaniment 

Updated at 6:12PM4:27PM

Carrie Lam at a charity event in Ocean Park

Meanwhile, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is at an event hosted at Ocean Park by the New Family charity. Attendees were asked to stand and clap as she entered. Lam spoke at the event, encouraging stronger links between young people in Hong Kong and the mainland.

Updated at 6:13PM4:23PM

Impatience seeps through

Impatient members in the crowd shout “open the road”, while some youngsters climb over a metal barricade at the Shelter Street tram station, walking on lanes cordoned off by police.

Updated at 6:13PM4:16PM

‘No rules to stop the government’

Carl Sievers, a 33-year-old chef from Australia, is joining the protests with his girlfriend, a Hongkonger. This is his first time taking part in a rally here.

“I heard about the protests and I thought it’s a good thing to join as China coming into Hong Kong seems to be a major problem,” he says.

“I think this law is very scary as it can change people’s lives in a moment, as long as there aren’t any rules to stop the government from doing what they want, the situation will worsen.”

Updated at 6:14PM4:16PM

Smoke break

A driver caught in the jam on Causeway Bay Road puts anti-extradition bill posters on his windscreen and seizes the opportunity for a cigarette break.Updated at 6:14PM4:13PM30 minutes to cross an underpass between stations

It took people 30 minutes just to cross the underpass from Hong Kong station to Central station.

Updated at 6:15PM4:11PM

‘Just look around, many share our sentiments’: Ambrose HoFormer head of the Communications Authority and senior counsel Ambrose Ho has also joined the march. He took part in the legal profession’s silent protest last week.

“It was a matter of principle,” Ho says. “I hope the government will listen to the legal profession and Hongkongers. Just look around, many people share our sentiments.”

He says he once served as a deputy judge for nine years, and never joined a rally in that time. Ho adds that the major turnout today reminds him of the 2003 protest against the controversial national security law. 

Updated at 6:15PM4:04PM

Eastbound lanes and tram rail on Hennessy Road packed

All three eastbound lanes and the tram rail on Hennessy Road have been filled as the march grinds to a halt, with the tail end of the procession still at the starting point in Victoria Park. 

Updated at 6:15PM4:01PM

‘The government is different from back in 2003’

Tom Chiu, 40, a transport industry worker, is bringing his eight-year-old son, Patrick, to the rally. They are wearing white, as requested by the protest’s organiser the Civil Human Rights Front.

He says: “Hong Kong’s system of law is already complete. No need for another extradition bill.”

He admits he is not optimistic the government will shelve the bill, saying: “The government nowadays is different from back in 2003. It’s tougher and unwilling to listen to the people. But we still have to make our voices heard.”

In 2003, a protest march against the national security law brought 500,000 people to the streets, but authorities heeded their call.

Updated at 6:16PM3:55PM

Tens of thousands now on march as emotions run high

Tens of thousands of Hongkongers are now marching under the heat, with the mercury rising to 31 degrees Celsius. Streets around Victoria Park in Causeway Bay are a sea of white, with protesters heeding the call of organisers to show up in the colour, symbolising “light and brightness”. The procession has slowed, and emotions are boiling over. 

“Carrie Lam, step down!” some in the crowds chant, while others hold placards demanding Hong Kong’s leader be extradited to the mainland.
 Updated at 4:06PM3:49PM

White for ‘light and brightness’

Many in the march are decked out in white, a dress code set by organisers. The colour is to symbolise “light and brightness”, with an overall theme of justice. 

Updated at 4:13PM3:47PM

Crowds demand more space from police as march grinds to a halt

The protest march has come to a standstill on Causeway Bay Road, just a turn away from Victoria Park. People are chanting “open the road”, demanding police grant them more space.

Updated at 6:15PM3:44PM’

Here for the next generation’

Lily Chan, 70, arrives in a wheelchair. Despite her disability, she says she is here for the next generation. “I am here because you can’t trust the Chinese government.”

She fears that if the bill is passed, Hong Kong would extradite protest organisers to the mainland. 

“The freedom we have in Hong Kong is being eroded,” she says, adding that city officials have been taking orders from the mainland government, ignoring the calls from the public.

Updated at 6:15PM3:30PM

‘Showing the world Hong Kong has a voice’

Elvis Yeung, 22, is taking to the streets in protest for the first time because he wants to do something for the city he was born and bred in.

“This bill is one of antipathy because the Chinese government can simply make up an offence to get anyone they want, and the Hong Kong government is doing everything to help it,” Yeung says.

He believes many others share the same dissatisfaction because he had to stand in a long queue for buses to Victoria Park from Yuen Long, a district in northwest Hong Kong.

“Whether or not this protest will move the government, we are coming out today to show the world that Hong Kong people still have a voice,” Yeung says.

Impressed by the crowds, he adds he will join more rallies in future. 

Updated at 6:15PM3:25PM

MTR chaos

An MTR spokesman says Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations are packed and crowd control measures will be in place. Tin Hau exits A1 and A2, and Causeway Bay exit E2 are the only ones that are still open.

“Different stations will act according to the actual situation,” the spokesman adds. “If there are too many passengers, stations will implement crowd control to let passengers in and onto platforms in batches.”

Updated at 6:49PM3:13PM

MTR train skips Tin Hau station

An MTR spokesman says at around 2.30pm, a Chai Wan-bound train skipped the Tin Hau station “out of safety concerns” over overcrowding at the platform. He advises passengers to get off at Fortress Hill and take a train back to Tin Hau from the other direction. He does not confirm whether all trains will skip the station. 

Updated at 3:26PM3:07PM’

When Hong Kong is in need, its people will spare no effort’

For Kelvin Chan and Joel Tang, both 19, it is their first time taking to the streets for a protest. “After reading everything on social media platforms, I decided that I should come out and oppose the bill,” Tang says. 

Chan, who joined a student strike on campus during the 2014 Occupy Movement, says he found it unreasonable to send Hongkongers across the border for trials. “I am very impressed by the crowd,” Chan says. 

“This tells me that when Hong Kong is in need, its people will spare no effort.”

Updated at 3:25PM2:53PM

‘Step down Carrie Lam!’

The march started half an hour early because of the huge turnout as tens of thousands of people in white leave Victoria Park, chanting: “Step down, Carrie Lam! No evil law!”

Updated at 6:14PM2:51PM

Student voices

Gigi Chow Mei-chi, 20, says she joined because she fears being extradited to the mainland. As the external secretary of Polytechnic University’s student union, she has made public remarks against the Chinese government.

“Some people may say the Hong Kong government will not change its mind no matter how many people come today. But we are here to tell the authorities we will not allow the bill to be passed,” she says.

“The protest today is a major message to the Hong Kong and Chinese government that we do not want the bill.”

Chow says many students from PolyU are joining the protest for the first time.

Updated at 6:14PM2:48PM

Familiar faces in the crowd

Mike Rowse, former director-general of InvestHK, has also joined the march. 

Rowse, who has remained government-friendly after 28 years in public office, says the matter of extradition is a serious subject and “did not receive the in-depth investigation” needed.

“If ever there was a piece of legislation in the last 100 years that needed a bills committee, this is the one,” Rowse tells the Post.

He describes the bill itself as already a “disaster”, but adds the legislative process is even more worrying.

He also urges the government to respond properly to the large turnout and to address concerns voiced earlier by foreign businesses. 

Updated at 6:14PM2:43PM

March kicks off

Road intersections near Victoria Park are blocked. Organisers are advising protesters to keep a lookout for people around them and to drink plenty of water.

Updated at 6:13PM2:38PM

Support from the sea

Fishing boats rally in the sea in support of the extradition bill. Photo: May Tse

Fishing boats rally in the sea in support of the extradition bill. Photo: May Tse

Updated at 2:46PM2:37PM

Australia joins the chorus

Meanwhile, protests are being held across communities in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane. In Melbourne, hundreds protest outside the State Library Victoria. They chant slogans calling on authorities to scrap the extradition law, belting the anthem Do you hear the people sing? The song carries lyrics about people rising from slavery.

Hongkonger Henry Lee from Melbourne says: “I’m here today because I fear that I might be extradited to mainland China for crimes that I didn’t commit.
“The government has been rushing to have the bills passed. I felt that I have to come out today.” Lee, a 35-year-old digital designer who moved to Melbourne about 10 years ago, says he is touched that people from around the world have come out against the bill.

A protest in Melbourne

In Canberra, about 70 people are taking part in a protest near the Canberra Centre. 
Among them is Australian Simon Henderson, 34. He says: “There is a strong sense of solidarity from the Hong Kong community internationally through these protests. This is regardless of them being students, business people or civil servants, and whether they have lived overseas for a short or long time.” 

Henderson is a former senior policy advisor for the Hong Kong NGO Justice Centre.

“What struck me was the diversity of people concerned about the extradition proposals. One thing that collectively unites all is a sense of distrust towards the Chinese government, and a fear that if these proposals become law it will further undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

NeoDemocrats cited organisers as saying there have been about 2,000 people attending in Sydney, while 500 and 200 people have turned out for the Melbourne and Brisbane protests respectively.Updated at 10:43PM2:28PMShipping in: the other side of the protest

More than a dozen ships carrying banners with slogans supporting the bill have cruised into Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour.

Updated at 6:13PM2:26PM

Crowds clog MTR stations as protest fever hits

Exit E towards Victoria Park at Causeway Bay station has been blocked by staff, as crowds pour in. Meanwhile, Admiralty station two stops away on the Island Line is also packed. 

Exit E at Causeway Bay station is closed.

MTR stations on the Island Line are packed, with queues stretching back many metres.

Updated at 6:07PM

Hong Kong extradition lawCOMMENTS (437)Diplomacy

China summons US envoy in protest over Washington’s condemnation of Hong Kong extradition bill

  • Chinese vice foreign minister says Beijing will not accept meddling by foreign forces in Hong Kong’s affairs
  • It is in the interest of the United States that Hong Kong continue to be prosperous and stable, foreign ministry says
Kinling Lo

Kinling Lo  

Published: 7:23pm, 14 Jun, 2019173

Police use tear gas to disperse protesters against the anti-extradition law in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: Sam Tsang
Police use tear gas to disperse protesters against the anti-extradition law in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: Sam Tsang

Police use tear gas to disperse protesters against the anti-extradition law in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: Sam Tsang

China summoned a US envoy in Beijing on Friday to protest against Washington’s condemnation of Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill.

Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng urgently summoned Robert Forden, deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Beijing, for the protest, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

Le said China did not accept foreign forces meddling in Hong Kong affairs.

“China called on the United States … to immediately stop all interference in Hong Kong’s affairs and stop taking action that would affect the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” the statement said. “China will proceed with its next step based on the action taken by the US.”The last time China summoned a US diplomat was in December when Beijing protested to US ambassador to China Terry Branstad over the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of the US.

What is behind Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protests?

In September, Branstad and the US embassy’s defence attache were summoned over Washington’s decision to sanction a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian fighter jets and an advanced surface-to-air missile system.SUBSCRIBE TO US CHINA TRADE WARGet updates direct to your inboxSUBMITBy registering for these newsletters you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

Le’s protest came after Beijing issued a stern warning to the United States over the extradition bill, reminding Washington that instability in the city does not serve American interests.

Underlining Beijing’s determination to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday that China was resolutely opposed to a move by US lawmakers to introduce bipartisan legislation that would require the US secretary of state to certify Hong Kong’s autonomy each year to justify special treatment for the city.

How Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protesters besieged city’s legislature

“The United States is one of Hong Kong’s major trading partners. It is in the interest of the United States that Hong Kong can continue to be prosperous and stable. It is not good for the United States to mess up Hong Kong,” Geng said.

“I would like to emphasise China’s determination and will to uphold its unshakeable sovereign and development interests. We are not afraid of any threats or intimidation.

“Any attempt to create chaos in Hong Kong and undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability will be confronted by all Chinese people, including the vast number of Hong Kong compatriots.”

The warning came a day after US lawmakers reintroduced proposed legislation to “reaffirm the US commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law at a time when these freedoms and Hong Kong’s autonomy are being eroded through interference by the Chinese government and Communist Party”.

Hong Kong government working to defuse extradition bill crisis, ‘considering pause rather than withdrawal’

If passed, the bipartisan Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would require the US secretary of state to certify Hong Kong’s autonomy from mainland China so the city could continue enjoying special trade and economic benefits. Those benefits are the result of the US-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which does not require the autonomy status to be reviewed.

The US is Hong Kong’s second-biggest trading partner, with US$69 billion in merchandise and services trade volume between the two in 2017, according to US data.

The Hong Kong Trade Development Council also said earlier this month that the US accounted for 18.3 per cent of all foreign companies with regional headquarters or offices in the city.

The reintroduction of the US bill came after hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through the city on Sunday to demonstrate against the proposed extradition legislation which would allow Hong Kong to send suspects to jurisdictions with which it does not have formal extradition treaties, including mainland China. Demonstrations also erupted on Wednesday, ending in a confrontation with police.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier that if the extradition bill was passed, the US Congress would have no choice but to review whether Hong Kong had sufficient autonomy.

On Friday, Geng issued his harshest warning this week against “foreign intervention” in Hong Kong’s affairs, accusing foreign politicians and diplomats of fuelling unrest in the city.

“I think everyone should be aware that some Western countries have recently made irresponsible remarks about Hong Kong affairs. Some Western politicians openly support the anti-China and Hong Kong elements,” he said. “Hong Kong is purely the internal affair of China. No nation, organisation or individual can interfere.”

Two days earlier, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said US President Donald Trump might raise the Hong Kong issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Japan where the two leaders are expected to meet later this month.

And late last month, the British and Canadian foreign ministers issued a joint statement expressing concern about the extradition bill’s potential impact on its citizens as well as “business confidence and on Hong Kong’s international reputation”.

Additional reporting by Catherine Wong

For more on this story and video https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3013725/hong-kong-edge-crowds-gather-ultimate-showdown-against

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