Hong Kong protests
July 7, 2019

Hong Kong's protesters are seeking a new audience for an old fight.

The city's demonstrators again gathered in the streets for their fourth mass rally in a month on Sunday — organizers said 230,000 people turned out for this iteration of the movement. This time, the demonstrators, who normally direct their rallies toward Hong Kong's government and police force, marched through shopping areas popular with tourists from mainland China before winding up at the West Kowloon station, a new high-speed rail station that connects Hong Kong with the mainland.

Protesters said the route was chosen as part of an effort to bring the rallies to the attention of mainlanders visiting Hong Kong. Beijing has provided limited coverage of the protests — which were sparked by fears that Hong Kong's autonomy was eroding at the hands of Beijing, especially after the proposal of a bill that would allow extradition to the mainland — since they began, keeping China's citizens in the dark.

"We hope they will know the truth and spread the word in mainland China," a 17-year-old student told The Wall Street Journal, referring to the tourists in the city. Tim O'Donnell

July 2, 2019

China's state media was silent about the mass demonstrations in Hong Kong on Monday. But Beijing spoke up on Tuesday, denouncing the protests as "radical" and accusing the protesters of trampling on the rule of law.

Monday's demonstrations, which are part of a series of protests sparked by a controversial bill proposal that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China, coincided with the 22nd anniversary of the day Britain ceded the city to China. A group of mostly young activists smashed their way into Hong Kong's legislative council where they wreaked havoc. The chaos drew China's ire, with the government adding that they would support Hong Kong's persecution of those behind the "atrocities."

"If the violence which happened to the legislative council in Hong Kong happened in Europe or the United States, how would they deal with it?," China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said.

The United Kingdom, though, warned Beijing not to break its promises to protect freedoms in Hong Kong, reminding China of the terms the sides agreed to when Hong Kong was reincorporated as a Chinese territory, which included the right to protest.

"There will be serious consequences if that internationally binding legal agreement were not to be honored," British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, who is a candidate to step in as the country's next prime minister, said.

While the U.K. has declared its "unwavering" support for the protesters, the government has also encouraged the demonstrators to refrain from violence. Tim O'Donnell

July 1, 2019

Riot police in Hong Kong used tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who took over the Legislative Council building on Monday night.

The demonstrators were inside for three hours, and defaced the building, spray-painting on walls, destroying surveillance cameras, and smashing glass doors, The New York Times reports. Speaking to reporters early Tuesday, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, said the "violence and lawlessness have seriously affected the core values of Hong Kong's legal system," and she condemned the protesters' actions.

Demonstrators have been hitting the streets for the last few weeks, after Lam tried to push through a bill that would change extradition laws so people arrested in Hong Kong could go on trial in China; she has since suspended the bill, but protesters want her to withdraw it completely. Eddie Chu, a pro-democracy member of the legislature, told reporters it's up to Lam and the government to come up with a solution to the crisis. "If this is left to the police and Beijing to solve, we will face the greatest tragedy we've seen in 22 years," he said.

Monday marked the 22nd anniversary of Britain returning Hong Kong to China. At the time, the Chinese government agreed that Hong Kong could keep its civil liberty protections and justice system for 50 years, and protesters believe the extradition bill is proof of the creeping influence of Beijing. Catherine Garcia

July 1, 2019

Police carrying riot gear and firing tear gas evicted protesters who had stormed and ransacked Hong Kong's parliament building on Monday, but Beijing's state-controlled media would apparently rather mainland China's citizenry remain unaware of the protests in the first place.

Monday's pro-Democracy demonstration took place on the 22nd anniversary of the day Britain handed over control of the city to China, which is normally a quiet affair. But a proposed bill that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China has sparked a series of mass protests in recent weeks, with demonstrators arguing it threatens Hong Kong's rule of law.

On Monday, some of the protesters were able to smash their way into Hong Kong's legislative council where they defaced the emblem of Hong Kong in the central chamber, raised the old British colonial flag, spray-painted messages across the walls, and shattered furniture before being dispersed by police.

But mainland China's entirely state-controlled media didn't mention Monday's protests once. The main evening news broadcast showed video of the flag-raising ceremony associated with the anniversary, along with parts of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam's address and shots of Hong Kong residents praising displays put on by China's People's Liberation Army. The protests, though, didn't make the cut, The Associated Press reports. In fact, Chinese media outlets have barely reported on the protests at all, other than the occasional mention of how foreign forces were stirring up unrest in the territory. Tim O'Donnell

July 1, 2019

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents amassed Monday for a pro-democracy demonstration on the 22nd anniversary of the day Britain handed over control of the city to China, on the understanding that Hong Kong would retain some autonomy from Beijing. This year's protest was unusually large due to anger over proposed legislation that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China and its Communist Party-run courts. Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam apologized and suspended consideration of the legislation June 15 after massive and sometimes violent demonstrations. Protesters want her to scrap the bill permanently and resign.

A small group of protesters broke though a reinforced glass window at the Legislative Council with a metal cart Monday, then dismantled part of a glass and metal exterior wall, but riot police inside have prevented anyone from entering the legislature building. The organizers of the main protest expect up to a million people to join an afternoon march, though they changed the endpoint to a park instead of the legislature, given the escalating confrontation there.

Earlier Monday, protesters tried to force their way into the square around the convention center, where Hong Kong leaders were holding the annual flag-raising ceremony to mark the 1997 handover of the city. The protesters were repelled by police using batons and pepper spray. Inside the convention center, Lam said the furor over the legislation had made her "fully realize that I, as a politician, have to remind myself all the time of the need to grasp public sentiments accurately," and "I will learn the lesson and ensure that the government's future work will be closer and more responsive to the aspirations, sentiments, and opinions of the community." Peter Weber

June 22, 2019

Thousands of protesters blockaded police headquarters in Hong Kong on Friday evening as part of continuing protests against a proposed extradition bill that the government has since suspended in an attempt to restore normalcy to the city. Most of the crowd, which was comprised of many young people and students, had dispersed as of Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The demonstrators were also calling for police to take responsibility for the use of tear gas and projectiles to break up previous mass protests in the city. The police said the gathering, which led to road closures, delayed their response to emergency calls, and later argued that their means of expression had teetered into illegal territory. Some residents complained that the road closures made it difficult to get around the city.

Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng rejected calls to investigate police brutality during the earlier protests, though she did reiterate the government's apology for its handling of the extradition bill.

The bill would allow felony suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China, which the protesters argue threatens Hong Kong's rule of law and could possibly subject the suspects to unfair trials and torture. It is unclear if more protests will take place. Tim O'Donnell

June 16, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators returned to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday to protest a proposed bill that would allow extradition to mainland China. The rally reportedly looks like it could reach the scale of last Sunday's protests, for which around 1 million people gathered.

The protesters were also calling for Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down, despite their understanding that she had little choice but to carry out orders from Beijing, The Associated Press reports.

Lam, reportedly with the backing of Beijing, announced on Saturday that she was suspending the extradition legislation after the protests turned violent during the week, but those opposed to the bill want it scrapped entirely. They fear the law would subject criminal suspects to possible torture and unfair trials if they are sent to China. Generally speaking, the protesters believe the bill is in conflict with Hong Kong's judicial independence and contributes to the territory's eroding freedoms. Tim O'Donnell

June 15, 2019

Mass protests in Hong Kong, which began Sunday and continued through the week, convinced the territory's Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Saturday to suspend a controversial bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

The protests had turned violent with police, who accused protesters of hurling bricks at them. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds, prompting Lam to put a hold on the legislation, reportedly with the backing of Beijing. Lam said she felt "deep sorrow and regret" that "deficiencies" in the government's work had "stirred up substantial controversies and disputes in society." She did say, however, that she would not withdraw the bill entirely, asking for another chance.

Lam also avoided questions about whether she would step down from her role, but Steve Tsang, a political scientist at SOAS University of London, told Reuters that he believes her days are numbered. Tsang said that Beijing most likely ordered her to suspend the bill. "She didn't understand what she was doing," he said.

The demonstrators took to the streets out of concern that the proposed bill threatens Hong Kong's rule of law. A new protest was expected on Sunday and organizers have maintained that it will indeed go on as planned as they continue to call for a complete withdrawal of the bill, Reuters reports. Tim O'Donnell

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