Hong Kong closes Govt offices after violent conduct occurs in extradition bill protests

Hong Kong: The Hong Kong authorities closed the government buildings in the city's financial district for the rest of the week after a day of violence over an extradition law, allowing people to be sent to mainland China for a lawsuit.

On Thursday, a few hundred demonstrators spun around with some sorting of their supplies of face masks and food because of widespread clearance around the city's legislature.

Security remained tight with dozens of uniformed police officers with helmets and shields in the area, while a long line of police vans stood side by side. Citizens in civilian clothes checked the morning commuter identification.

Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray in a series of skirmishes on Wednesday to remove protesters from the city's legislature. It was one of the worst violent acts in Hong Kong since Britain gave it to Chinese rule in 1997.

The Hong Kong hospital authority said 72 people were admitted to hospital before 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

The extradition law, which concerns Hong Kong residents and foreign and Chinese nationals living or traveling through the city, has raised concerns about the rule of law that undermines Hong Kong's international financial status.

Wednesday night was the third night of violence since a protest on Sunday what the organizers said was more than a million people in the biggest street demonstration since the 1997 handover.

& # 39; At night, several thousand demonstrators remained near the legislature in the Admiralty district, while thousands more withdrew from the Central Business District, overlooked by the towers of some of the largest companies and hotel chains in Asia , including HSBC and AIA.

The Hong Kong benchmark fell 1.5 percent in early trading on Thursday and extended Wednesday afternoon losses as tensions escalated.

Ken Lam, a demonstrator in his & # 39; 20 working in the city's food and beverages industry, said he would stay on strike until the bill was scrapped.

"I don't know what the plan for demonstrators is today, we'll just go with the flow, but we think the turnout will be smaller than yesterday and it will be peaceful after what happened yesterday," he said.

Most roads around the central business district were open for traffic on Thursday, but Pacific Place, a major shopping mall next to the legislature, remained closed. Banks, including Standard Chartered, Bank of China and DBS, said they had suspended the branches in the area until further notice.

Banks located in the Central district – the financial heart of the city – emphasized that the & # 39; business as usual & # 39; was, but many offered staff the opportunity to work from home wherever possible.

"As a precautionary measure, we closed two points of sale early where the protests took place. Our priorities are the safety of our employees and the support of our customers," said HSBC, whose public space at the head office at the head office was a point of interest for protests.

Hong Kong & # 39; s China-backed Chief Executive Carrie Lam condemned the violence late on Wednesday and called for a rapid restoration of order.

Lam acknowledges the controversy, but refuses to suspend or withdraw the bill, which she and her officials believe is necessary to & # 39; loopholes in the & # 39; to close the city, enabling the city to be a refuge for criminals sought on the mainland.

Lam has said that the courts will provide human rights guarantees when screening case-by-case renditions to mainland China.

Opponents, including prominent lawyers and rights groups, say that the Chinese legal system is characterized by torture and forced confession, arbitrary detention and poor access to lawyers.

Democratic lawmakers in an unlawful media uprising in the Thursday legislature strongly criticized Lam & # 39; s heavy-handed police response.

"We are not a refuge for criminals, but we have become a refuge for violent police." Fire at our children? None of the former chief executives dared to do that, "said legislator Fernando Cheung.

"But & # 39; mother Carrie Lam & # 39; did it, what kind of mother is she, I have never seen such an evil mother. & # 39;

Chinese state media said in editorials that Thursday the protests "hammered" Hong Kong's reputation.

"It is lawlessness that will harm Hong Kong, not the proposed changes to its fugitive law," said the English-language China Daily.


Face masks, safety glasses, helmets, and water bottles scattered throughout the area of ​​the legislature were cleaned up on Thursday, while a police team looked around and looked relaxed.

Traffic began to build on the roads surrounding the legislature while the adjacent Admiralty metro station remained closed. Other stations were full of commuters, while others were diverted and faced with extensive bus lines.

But concerns about the unrest saw the Hungarian tourism agency calling its Dragon Boat Carnival this weekend and index provider MSCI is canceling a conference at the Shangri-La hotel near the epicenter of Wednesday's skirmishes on Thursday.

Amnesty International joined local human rights organizations and condemned the use of the police as excessive on Wednesday, while a spokeswoman for the human rights agency in Geneva said it was following the situation closely.

"We appeal to all parties to give their opinion peacefully and to the Hong Kong authorities to participate in an inclusive and transparent dialogue on draft legislation," said the spokeswoman.

Diplomatic pressure also built up after leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, and US President Donald Trump commented on the protests.

The European Union said in a statement that it has shared many of the concerns of Hong Kong citizens with regard to the proposed extradition reforms and called for an in-depth inclusive public consultation to make progress.

"This is a sensitive issue, with potentially far-reaching consequences for Hong Kong and its people, for EU and foreign citizens, and for the confidence of companies in Hong Kong.

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