HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on the Hong Kong extradition bill and protests (all times local):
A Chinese official has called western criticism of a Hong Kong extradition bill “irresponsible” and says foreign countries have no right to intervene in China’s affairs.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused western politicians Friday of blatantly encouraging Hong Kong activists who have led huge protests against the bill in the past week.
China routinely objects to any criticism as meddling in its internal affairs, including the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong.
Geng said that “no country, organization or individual has the right to intervene.”
He added that all Chinese including the citizens of Hong Kong will surely oppose any attempts to create chaos in Hong Kong and undermine the city’s prosperity and stability.
Signs are growing that passage of extradition bills that have spurred large protests in Hong Kong could be delayed.
A group of former senior government officials issued a joint letter Friday urging Chief Executive Carrie Lam not to force a confrontation by pushing ahead with the unpopular legislation. The bills would allow Hong Kong suspects to be tried in mainland China.
Some members of the Executive Council, Lam’s Cabinet, also have suggested she might want to reconsider the bills’ passage.
The officials argued it was unwise to trigger more tensions with the public following protests Wednesday that turned violent. More protests are planned for later Friday, Sunday and Monday.
Many in Hong Kong fear such measures are undermining the territory’s legal autonomy.
Former Hong Kong Chief Secretary Anson Chan says the territory’s current government should drop highly controversial extradition legislation that has sparked mass protests.
Chan said in an interview Friday that a protest on Sunday that drew hundreds of thousands of people showed “the Hong Kong spirit at its best.”
Chan, who served as head of the civil service under the former British colonial administration and the Chinese-installed leadership that succeeded it in 1997, said passage of the proposed legislation that would permit the extradition of suspects to mainland China placed “everybody’s individual freedom and safety at risk.”
Chan said Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam appeared to have underestimated the degree of public dissatisfaction with the bills, which many see as part of a push to draw the city closer to Beijing.___
A noted Hong Kong political analyst says the pressure on the territory’s chief executive to step down or back away from plans to push through an unpopular extradition bill is growing.
Willy Lam, an expert on Chinese politics at Chinese University of Hong Kong said Friday that Beijing-appointed Chief Executive Carrie Lam may have to compromise on planned legislation that has sparked massive protests.
Willy Lam said the pressure to amend the plan or step down comes from many sectors, including business leaders. The Hong Kong legislature suspended sessions due to protests that turned violent on Wednesday.
She has defended the bill that would allow suspects detained in Hong Kong to be tried in mainland Chinese courts. Critics fear the law could be used to undermine Hong Kong’s civil liberties.
Petitions are voicing anger over police use of rubber bullets and other forceful means against Hong Kong residents who turned out to protest a bill that would allow suspects detained in Hong Kong to be tried in mainland Chinese courts.
Several groups were circulating online petitions signed by thousands of people objecting to use of rubber bullets, tear gas and other tactics during protests that left about 80 people injured.
One of the petitions, posted on Change.org, had nearly 28,000 signatures. It said the police had used an “excessive level of violence” and urged the United Nations to investigate and to condemn the police.
More demonstrations are planned to try to stop Beijing-appointed Chief Executive Carrie Lam from pushing through the legal amendments they fear will erode Hong Kong’s legal autonomy.
Calm appeared to have returned to Hong Kong after days of protests by students and human rights activists opposed to a bill that would allow suspects to be tried in mainland Chinese courts.
The prospect of further protests over the weekend loomed large, however, with demonstrators saying they were determined to prevent the administration of Beijing-appointed Chief Executive Carrie Lam from pushing through the legal amendments they see as eroding Hong Kong’s cherished legal autonomy.
Traffic flowed on major thoroughfares that had been closed after a protest by hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday, posing the biggest political challenge yet to Lam’s two-year-old government. Protesters had kept up a presence through Thursday night, singing hymns and holding up signs criticizing the police for their handling of the protests.