HONG KONG — Protesters in Hong Kong, fearful that their civil liberties are under threat, are gathering in numbers not seen for years in this semiautonomous Chinese territory.
They are protesting a proposed law that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no extradition agreement, including mainland China, where the legal system is controlled by the ruling Communist Party. Critics of the law worry that it could be used to detain or intimidate activists, journalists and others who run afoul of Beijing.
[Why are people protesting in Hong Kong? Catch up here.]
A protest on Sunday drew more than a million people, organizers said, in a city of about seven million. The Hong Kong government, which is dominated by pro-Beijing lawmakers, said on Monday that the bill would not be withdrawn. In response, opponents of the law gathered outside the Hong Kong legislature starting Tuesday night, forcing lawmakers to delay debate on the bill that was scheduled for Wednesday.
The protests intensified on Wednesday afternoon, with protesters hurling bricks, bottles and umbrellas as they clashed with the police. Riot police officers responded by deploying tear gas against protesters who tried unsuccessfully to storm the Legislative Council.
The protests in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, have been compared to a pro-democracy sit-in in 2014 that shut down major roadways for almost three months but failed to win any government concessions. On Wednesday, the protesters were blocking some of the same roads.
Here are photographs from the protests this week.
Protesters started massing outside the Hong Kong government complex on Tuesday night in preparation for protests on Wednesday aimed at disrupting a scheduled debate on the bill.
Earlier in the day, Andrew Leung, the president of the Legislative Council, had said that despite mass protests, lawmakers were likely to vote on the bill by the end of next week, a faster timetable than had been expected. The measure is likely to pass the legislature, where pro-Beijing lawmakers hold 43 of 70 seats.
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