Authorities in Hong Kong have delayed debate on a controversial extradition bill after tens of thousands of demonstrators surrounded the city’s legislature.
The protesters, mostly young people and dressed in black, put up barricades and blocked traffic as they set about trying to occupy the area around the building.
Hundreds of riot police warned them to stop advancing but they were easily outnumbered by the demonstrators.
The protest forced the legislature to postpone a second round of debate on the extradition bill, that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial. The government said the proceedings in the Legislative Council would be delayed until further notice.
Earlier on Wednesday businesses prepared to go on strike, as demonstrators from across a wide spectrum of Hong Kong society began joining overnight protests.
“We won’t leave till they scrap the law,” said one young man wearing a black mask and gloves. “Carrie Lam has underestimated us. We won’t let her get away with this.”
Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, has vowed to press ahead with the legislation despite widespread concerns that it could undermine freedoms and investor confidence.
The legislature is controlled by a pro-Beijing majority. Lam has tried to reassure sceptics, saying her administration was adding amendments to the bill – including safeguards for human rights.
The protests have been compared to the pro-democracy “Occupy” protests that shook the city in 2014.
Opposition to the extradition bill on Sunday sparked the biggest political demonstration in Hong Kong since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997. The deal guaranteed the city special autonomy.__EuroNews