Hong Kong, which was a former British colony, became a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China in 1997 under a “one country two systems” arrangement that allows the city a degree of autonomy and judicial independence – freedom that mainland China does not possess. The new extradition bill is feared to threaten that freedom, as it is expected to be used to target opponents of Beijing government and force Hong Kong deeper under Chinese control.
Noting the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong, Monday saw disarray as pepper spray and batons were used by police to subdue demonstrators outside the annual flag raising ceremony.
Although the government has conceded to suspend the extradition bill, protests are still ongoing and Chief Executive Carrie Lam is faced with further calls for her resignation.
The protest mayhem
The flag raising ceremony was held in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with a large police force nearby. Protestors blocked off numerous roads around the venue with metal and plastic barriers early Monday morning according to the authorities. Police outside the Convention Centre armed with shields, batons, and pepper spray engaged with a large presence of demonstrators roughly half an hour before the ceremony. One of the female protestors was seen bleeding from her head after she was wounded in the conflict. Over a dozen police officers were admitted to hospital after demonstrators hurled an unidentified liquid at them which may have caused them breathing difficulties.
A section of the protesting force broke off from the group and focused their attention on the Legislative Council building, as they battered the glass doors with a metal trolley. The group didn’t enter the building after successfully breaking the door, as riot police on the inside were prepared for the strike.
At the flag raising ceremony, Lam said, “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”.