Hong Kong protest biggest since Tiananmen Square
Publish date: 11 June 2019
Issue Number: 4716
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in an immense protest against a government plan to allow extraditions to mainland China that culminated after midnight in clashes with the police, says a report in The New York Times. The mass demonstration was one of the largest in the city’s history – a display of rising fear and anger over the erosion of the civil liberties that have long set this former British colony apart from the rest of the country. Organisers estimated more than one m i l l i o n were on the streets, or nearly one in seven Hong Kong residents. The protest recalled the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement five years ago, which paralysed several of the city’s main commercial districts but failed to persuade the government to make any concessions. Since then, says the report, China’s ruling Communist Party has been gradually exerting more influence over Hong Kong. The local authorities have rejected demands for free elections and ousted opposition lawmakers, and critics say Beijing’s supporters are chipping away at the independence of the territory’s courts and news media. The crowd of protesters, which stretched more than a mile, represented a dramatic rebuke of the Communist leadership and a potential political crisis for Beijing and Carrie Lam, the leader it selected to govern Hong Kong. The police estimated there were 240 000 protesters at the peak of the demonstration, but organisers said it was the biggest rally since more than a m i l l i o n residents gathered in 1989 in support of the student-led democracy movement that was crushed in Tiananmen Square.