The pro-Beijing leader of Hong Kong said today that he has no intention of withdrawing a controversial plan to allow extradition to the Chinese mainland, a day after estimating that a million people marched to oppose the proposal.
"This is a very important piece of legislation that will help to uphold justice and also to ensure that Hong Kong fulfills its international obligations in terms of cross-border and transnational crimes," chief executive Carrie Lam told reporters.
Adrian Brown of Al Jazeera, who reported from Beijing, said: "IIn the face of protests, in front of all his critics, Carrie Lam remains undaunted ".
"It is quite clear that it will not set aside this controversial bill which has caused so much alarm and agitation in Hong Kong.
"He says the bill is necessary and reasonable and that it is also the vision of the government here in Beijing," said Brown.
On Monday the riot police surrounded the Hong Kong parliament after a mass demonstration took to the field when several hundred protesters clashed with the police, who responded with pepper spray before the end of the stall.
The protests precipitated Hong Kong in a new political crisis, putting pressure on the Lam administration and its official supporters in Beijing. The veteran legislators have invited you to resign.
The semi-autonomous city government is pushing a bill through the legislature that would allow extradition to any jurisdiction with which it does not already have a treaty, including Mainland China.
The proposals sparked a clamor and generated an opposition that combines a large cross-section of the city, with opponents who fear that the law could entangle people in China's opaque and politicized judicial system.
Protesters believe the proposed law would damage the city's rule of law and put many at risk of extradition to China for political crimes.
Sunday saw a huge crowd marching in a flaming summer heat through the narrow streets of the main financial center in a noisy and colorful demonstration asking the government to abolish its planned extradition law .
The police estimated the crowd at 240,000, but according to the organizers more than a million took part in what appeared to be the biggest protest since 2003, presenting Lam with a serious political crisis.
But in his first comments after mass gatherings, Lam said he had no intention of changing the wording of the current law or withdrawing it from the city legislature.
"The bill will resume its second reading on June 12," he said.
Lam denied ignoring the huge public reaction and said that his administration has already made important concessions to ensure that the city's only freedoms are protected and that the human rights safeguards adopted by the law comply with international standards .
"My team and I have not ignored any opinion expressed on this very important legislative act: we have listened and listened very carefully," he said.
But Brown from Al Jazeera said that many people are not convinced by Lam's arguments that there are sufficient guarantees in the new bill to address their concerns.
US and European officials have issued formal warnings, corresponding to international business and human rights lobbies who fear that the changes could affect the rule of law in Hong Kong.
The former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 amidst guarantees of autonomy and various freedoms, including a separate legal system, which many diplomats and business leaders consider to be the strongest residual resource in the city.
"It is a proposal, or a series of proposals, that provoke a terrible blow … against the rule of law, against the stability and security of Hong Kong, against the position of Hong Kong as a great international trade center", l & # 39; last British governor of the territory, Chris Patten, said Thursday.
The guards removed the barricades damaged by the facade of the Legislative Council building during Monday morning rush hour and the cleaners washed away the protest debris.
All but one demonstrator had been freed from the area, with residents returning to work normally.
The Hong Kong newspaper Mingpao said in an editorial that the government should take protesters seriously and that pushing legislation forward could exacerbate tensions.
The official newspaper China Daily said in an editorial Monday that "foreign forces" were trying to hurt China by creating chaos in Hong Kong.
"Any fair person would regard the proposed amendment as a legitimate, reasonable and reasonable piece of legislation that would strengthen Hong Kong's rule of law and guarantee justice," the newspaper said.
Amnesty International has stated that the amended extradition law is a threat to human rights.
"If passed, this law would extend the capacity of the continent's authorities to hit critics, human rights activists, journalists, NGO workers and anyone else in Hong Kong, in much the same way they live at home. ", reads a note.