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Why a million marching in Hong Kong?

The demonstration is by far the biggest, the international finance hub has experienced since it was returned to China by Britain -- beaten only by a 1.5 million-strong demonstration during colonial rule in 1989 supporting the Tiananmen protesters.

'Largest protest since its 1997'

Hong Kong witnessed the largest protest since its 1997 handover to China on Sunday as huge crowds massed against plans to allow extraditions to the mainland, a proposal that has plunged the city's pro-Beijing leaders into a crisis.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Million people march in blazing heat'

Organisers said more than a million people marched in blazing summer heat through the cramped streets of the financial hub's main island in a noisy, colourful demonstration calling on the government to scrap its planned extradition law.

The demonstration was by far the biggest the international finance hub has experienced since it was returned to China by Britain -- beaten only by a 1.5 million-strong demonstration during colonial rule in 1989 supporting the Tiananmen protesters.

(Photograph:AFP)

Protest against China extradition law

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leaders are pushing a bill through the legislature that would allow extraditions to any jurisdiction with which it does not already have a treaty -- including mainland China.

(Photograph:AFP)

An outcry

But the proposals have sparked an outcry and birthed an opposition that unites a wide cross-section of the city.

Sunday's protest was easily on par with one in 2003 when an estimated half a million demonstrators forced the government to shelve a deeply unpopular national security law.

(Photograph:AFP)

Will crowds sway leaders? 

But it is unclear if the city's current leadership will be moved. 

The city's appointed leader Carrie Lam has staked her political reputation on the bill passing.

Ignoring the protests could fuel anger or even a return to the unrest of 2014 when pro-democracy protesters took over key intersections of the city for two months. Organisers said Sunday they would "upgrade their actions" if the government did not drop the bill.  

(Photograph:AFP)

Fear of Beijing

But backtracking by Lam might embolden opponents and anger Beijing. Several senior Communist Party leaders in China have voiced support for the bill.

The proposed law has been fast-tracked through the city's government-dominated legislature and on Wednesday it will receive its second reading, with plans to have the law on the statute books by late July.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Will upgrade actions'

Ignoring the protests could fuel anger or even a return to the unrest of 2014 when pro-democracy protesters took over key intersections of the city for two months. Organisers said Sunday they would "upgrade their actions" if the government did not drop the bill.  

(Story inputs: AFP)

(Photograph:AFP)