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China summons USA envoy over Hong Kong criticism

18 June 2019

US Representative Jim McGovern of the Commission said that he alongside Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith will reintroduce the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act later in the week to "reaffirm [the] US' commitment to human rights and the rule of law at a time when Hong Kong's autonomy is imperilled by Chinese government interference and revised extradition law".

China's foreign ministry said Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Robert Forden, the USA embassy's deputy chief of mission, on Friday.

Photos of clashes between police and protesters were accompanied by captions that accused "Hong Kong separatists" of organising attacks on police.

The U.S. State Department said on Monday it was gravely concerned about the proposed amendments to the extradition laws, warning they could jeopardise Hong Kong's special status.

Police also later arrested two students at the University of Hong Kong after a raid on a student hall of residence, according to an official at the university. "Hong Kong people's rights and freedoms have been fully guaranteed (...) No country should interfere in the internal affairs of other countries on the grounds of caring for its expatriates".

Opposition to the extradition bill has united an unusually wide cross section of Hong Kong against the proposal and sparked huge rallies. "None of the former chief executives dared to do that", said legislator Fernando Cheung. While the second reading of the bill was postponed by the protests, Lam still plans to go ahead with it.

The officials argued it was unwise to trigger more tensions with the public following protests Wednesday that turned violent.

But many fear the law could be used to target political opponents of the Chinese state in Hong Kong.

Saddened by the violent conflicts on Wednesday, the Law Society of Hong Kong reiterated that the bill should be debated in a calm, rational and constructive manner, with a view to finding a suitable solution for the benefit of Hong Kong as a whole. The city's hospital authority said 81 people were injured in the protests.

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".

Willy Lam said the pressure to amend the plan or step down comes from many sectors, including business leaders. After 22 years, there is still no sign of a legislature elected by universal suffrage, promised to us under the Basic Law, Hong Kong's constitution.

She has defended the bill that would allow suspects detained in Hong Kong to be tried in mainland Chinese courts.

Extradition is just the latest flashpoint in the city as Beijing has sought greater influence in recent years, attempting with varying degrees of success to exert control over Hong Kong's national security, education and electoral framework.

Riot police gather outside the Legislative Council, following a day of violence over an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial, in Hong Kong, China June 13, 2019.

A few dozen demonstrators clustered near the city's legislature, which had been scheduled to debate the bill this week but was thwarted when thousands of protesters took to the streets and blocked the building.

One of the petitions, posted on Change.org, had almost 28,000 signatures.

Amnesty International and domestic rights groups condemned what they said was excessive force by the police, while a spokeswoman for the U.N. Human Rights Office in Geneva said it was following the situation closely.

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.

On Thursday, she praised the latest U.S. legislation, and expressed hope that President Donald Trump "will speak about human rights in China and freedoms in China when he talks about trade with the Chinese".

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.

China summons USA envoy over Hong Kong criticism