Protesters try to smash way into Hong Kong's Legislative Council

AFP
Hong Kong, , Hong Kong Published: Jul 01, 2019, 12:18 PM(IST)

Hundreds of protesters faced off with riot police early on Monday, the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule, ahead of an annual rally that is expected to draw huge crowds amid widespread anger over a controversial extradition bill. Police sprayed pepper spray to disperse the demonstrators in the latest protests over the extradition bill, which would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party. The bill, which the government was forced to suspend after the largest and most violent protests in decades, has plunged the Asian financial center into political turmoil.

Story highlights

Riot police with helmets and shields faced off against protesters in the Admiralty and Wanchai districts of the city.

Anti-government protesters smashed windows of Hong Kong's Legislative Council on Monday and were trying to force their way into the building by ramming a metal cart through the glass doors, as police responded with pepper spray.

Riot police were also seen inside the building, which has been at the centre of protests in the past three weeks, driven by demands for the withdrawal of a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

The international financial hub has been shaken by historic demonstrations in the past three weeks, driven by demands for the withdrawal of a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

Tensions spiked once more in the semi-autonomous city on Monday morning after small groups of mainly young, masked protesters seized three key thoroughfares, deploying metal and plastic barriers to block the way.

Riot police with helmets and shields faced off against protesters in the Admiralty and Wanchai districts of the city.

Shortly before a flag-raising ceremony to mark the handover, police swooped on protesters who had blockaded one street. At least one woman was seen bleeding from a head wound after the clashes as police made multiple arrests.

Some protesters hurled eggs at police, who later said 13 officers were also sent to hospital after being doused in an "unknown liquid".

The rallies reflect growing fears that China is stamping down on the city's freedoms and culture with the help of the finance hub's pro-Beijing leaders.

Benny, a 20-year-old student who gave only one name, said protesters had been prodded into action by the obduracy of the city's pro-Beijing appointed leadership.  

Although Hong Kong was returned from British to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, it is still administered separately under an arrangement known as "one country, two systems".

The city enjoys rights and liberties unseen on the mainland, but many residents fear Beijing is already reneging on that deal.

Read in App