Hong Kong braced for strikes, transport go-slows and another mass demonstration in protest against a proposed extradition law that would allow people to be sent to China for trial, as the Chinese-ruled city's leader vowed defiance.
On Sunday, organisers said more than a million people took to the streets holding placards and demanding the government abandon the amendments, though police put the numbers much lower at 240,000.
It was a dramatic rebuke of Carrie Lam, the city's chief executive, and immediately raised the stakes in her contentious push to adopt the new legislation, which the ruling Communist Party in Beijing has endorsed.
"The people of Hong Kong want to protect our freedom, our freedom of speech, our rule of law, our judicial system, and also our economic foundation, which is welcome to worldwide investors", activist Lee Cheuk-yan, a former Hong Kong legislator, said Sunday.
They allow for extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau for suspects accused of criminal wrongdoing such as murder and rape.
The territory is a major destination for US legal and accounting services and in 2018 the largest USA bilateral trade-in-goods surplus was with Hong Kong at $31.1 billion.
Hong Kong's leaders say it is needed to plug loopholes and to stop the city being a sanctuary for fugitives. Numerous marchers wore white, a symbol of justice and mourning in Chinese culture.
Lam told reporters Monday that the legislation will help Hong Kong uphold justice and fulfill its worldwide obligations.More news: Watch Watergate Fossil John Dean Get Obliterated At Anti-Trump Hearing
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The author claimed that Sunday's marchers "have failed to realize that the opposition camp is using them merely as pawns" to achieve its own political aims, which would damage the "credibility and reputation" of the territory.
Pro-democracy protesters clashed with police as they tried to surround Hong Kong government headquarters late Sunday, stepping up their movement for genuine democratic reforms after camping out on the city's streets for more than two months.
"I come here to fight", said a wheelchair-bound, 78-year-old man surnamed Lai, who was among the first to arrive. "We have not enough power to resist as Hong Kong government is supported by the mainland", said Lai, who suffers from Parkinson's disease.
Chinese state media dismissed the concerns of Hong Kong residents, many of whom fear encroachment on personal and political liberties enjoyed in the special administrative region but not on the mainland.
China was excluded because of concerns over its poor record on legal independence and human rights.
Lam said the bill seeks to prevent Hong Kong from becoming a place for criminals to hide.
Another State Department official said Ortagus was referring the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which establishes the legal framework by which Washington accords Hong Kong special treatment distinct from the rest of China for purposes of US domestic law. The government's extradition bill will have a second reading in the Legislative Council on June 12, she said. The protest appeared to be Hong Kong's largest in more than a decade and reflected growing apprehension about relations with the Communist Party-ruled mainland.
Hong Kong's appointed leaders are increasingly perceived to be doing the bidding of Beijing, and there is little trust in their assurances that the law won't impact the city's prized independent judiciary or its wider freedoms.