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Chaos as Hong Kong's 'state of the union' is disrupted

By News Express on 16/10/2019

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•Chaotic scene in Hong Kong's parliament . . . on Wednesday
•Chaotic scene in Hong Kong's parliament . . . on Wednesday

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam was on Wednesday forced to suspend her annual address after being heckled in the city's parliament.

Opposition lawmakers disrupted the session from the start by shouting and projecting slogans.

After a first interruption, the session briefly resumed to only be interrupted again. It was then adjourned a second time  with the address delivered by pre-recorded video instead.

Hong Kong has experienced months of anti-government protests.

Parliament resumed on Wednesday for the first time since it was stormed by protesters in July.

The Legislative Council (Legco) was expected to officially withdraw the extradition bill that sparked the protests.

The withdrawal will only be possible once Legco resumes.

As the city's chief executive was about to begin her speech, opposition lawmakers projected the slogan "Five demands - not one less" on the wall behind her.

Since the protests began in June, they have widened from rallies against the extradition bill to five key demands - including universal suffrage.

Ms Lam's interrupted speech came just hours after US lawmakers supported Hong Kong's protesters by passing a bill aimed at upholding human rights in the city.

After the assembly was suspended a second time, the speech was made available as a video on the Legco website - instead of live from the parliament chamber.

Opposition lawmaker Tanya Chan said Ms Lam was to blame for the city's troubles.

"Both her hands are soaked with blood," she said. "We hope Carrie Lam withdraws and quits. She has no governance ability. She is not suitable to be chief executive."

Pro-establishment lawmakers condemned the interruption of the session  saying the address was important for the city's economic future.

What are the Hong Kong protests about?

Hong Kong is part of China but, as a former British colony, has some autonomy and people have more rights.
The protests started in June against plans to allow extradition to the mainland - which many feared would undermine the city's freedoms and judicial independence.

The bill was withdrawn in September but demonstrations continued. Demands have widened to include genuine universal suffrage and an inquiry into police behaviour.

Protests have taken place every weekend over the past month and in every district, causing widespread disruption.

Clashes between police and activists have become increasingly violent, with police firing live bullets and protesters attacking officers and throwing petrol bombs.

Ms Lam's address was scheduled just days after Chinese President Xi Jinping said any attempt to divide China would end in "bodies smashed and bones ground to powder".

While he did not mention any particular region, his comment was seen as a warning to Hong Kong, where protests have a strong anti-Beijing element.

How did the protests escalate?

In July, hundreds of protesters stormed Legco, spraying graffiti and defacing symbols of the Hong Kong law-making body.

In August, one protester was injured in the eye, leading to demonstrators wearing red-coloured eye patches to show their solidarity.

Protests at Hong Kong international airport then led to hundreds of flights being cancelled.

When the bill was finally withdrawn in September, most protesters said it was "too little, too late".

On 1 October, while China was celebrating 70 years of Communist Party rule, Hong Kong experienced what authorities said was one of its most "violent and chaotic days".

An 18-year-old was shot in the chest with a live bullet, one of six rounds were fired by police. Protesters also fought officers with poles, petrol bombs and other projectiles.

The government then banned protesters wearing face masks, invoking powers dating back to colonial rule. Many activists continue to defy the ban.

Last Sunday, peaceful rallies again descended into clashes with railway stations and shops deemed to be pro-Beijing targeted. (BBC)

Source News Express

Posted 16/10/2019 06:11:30 AM





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