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Hong Kong's financial hub paralyzed by protests

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on June 12, 2019 - Duration: 02:16s

Hong Kong's financial hub paralyzed by protests

Chaotic scenes erupted in Hong Kong on Wednesday as tens of thousands of demonstrators stormed key roads next to government offices to protest against a proposed extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Grace Lee reports.

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Hong Kong's financial hub paralyzed by protests

This was the chaotic scene Wednesday (June 12) morning just outside Hong Kong's legislature.

Thousands of demonstrators stormed roads in the city center protesting a controversial bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.

Joel Labi was there.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER JOEL LABI SAYING: "Right in the heart of Hong Kong it's absolute pandemonium this morning, there is an 8 lane highway that runs through the heart of the city that's been completely overrun with protesters.

Tens of thousands in the middle, police on either side - but they are clearly outnumbered here.

You get the sense on the ground that people have had enough.

You can feel the anger it is palpable they want the seat of power in Hong Kong which is across the road from me to know they have simply had enough that this extradition bill- which critics say will open up all sorts of doors for mainland China to come in and nab criminals at their own will, they want Hong Kong's lawmakers to know that's not acceptable and this bill needs to be scrapped." That was enough to postpone a second round of debate for the bill which was set to happen on later on Wednesday.

The government advised staff to avoid driving to government buildings altogether.

Demonstrators could be seen dragging steel barriers onto the roads, wreaking havoc on the morning rush hour.

Riot police were quickly deployed but protesters defied their calls to retreat.

All this comes after Hong Kong saw one of its biggest protests in history on Sunday (June 9).

More than a million people took to the streets that day - plunging the city into political crisis with calls for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down.

But Lam has stood defiant.

She's vowed to press ahead with the controversial bill.

And that law is backed by the legislature - which is mostly pro-Beijing.

Since its handover from Britain Hong Kong was meant to keep some autonomy until 2047.

But China's been accused of meddling in the city's affairs since, including obstructing democratic reforms - and interfering with local elections.

Human rights groups have cited China's alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions, and forced detentions as reasons why Hong Kong shouldn't allow the law to pass.

China denies accusations that it tramples on human rights.

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