Hong Kong in shock after anti-extradition violence


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Media captionPolice use tear gas on protesters

Authorities have shut some government offices in Hong Kong’s financial district after the worst violence the city has seen in decades.

By Thursday morning the crowds had largely dispersed around government headquarters – where police and protesters had pitched battles on Wednesday.

The protesters are angry about plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

Despite the widespread opposition, the government has not backed down.

However, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) delayed a second reading of the controversial extradition bill.

It is was originally scheduled to happen on Wednesday and it is now unclear when it will take place, though some local media outlets have reported that it could take place as early as Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray at crowds which numbered in the tens of thousands along key roads near the LegCo Complex.

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BBC News

Seventy-two people aged between 15 and 66 were injured in the violence, including two men who were in critical condition.

Only a handful of protesters remained in the central business district in the city on Thursday morning, though some roads and a downtown shopping mall still remain closed, said local broadcaster RTHK.

Hong Kong’s train operator, the MTR, said that Admiralty station – the station at the heart of the protest zone – would remain closed today following a police request.

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One man remained picking up rubbish from the streets

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There is still a strong police presence around the downtown areas of the city

What we learned about Hong Kong’s youth

By Martin Yip, BBC News Chinese, Hong Kong

The morning after the most violent protests Hong Kong has seen in decades, the scene outside the Legislative Council complex is quiet.

Debris is strewn about the roads – umbrellas, surgical masks – the aftermath of a serious confrontation.

Areas are still being cordoned off by police in riot gear, but there are no signs of protesters returning.

There is one elderly man shouting at police – he might seem like a lone voice, but anger against the police use of force is widespread.

As things stand, there is no fixed date for the reading of the extradition bill, although we’d expect that to happen next week.

Many members of the public, and the government, will feel a sense of shock.

They all learned something about Hong Kong’s youth: the strength of their feeling about Hong Kong’s political integrity is not to be underestimated.

They also showed they can get organised very quickly and they are willing take more radical measures than the generation that led the Occupy protests five years ago.

What is the extradition plan?

The government of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has proposed amendments to the extradition laws that would allow extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau for suspects accused of criminal wrongdoing such as murder and rape.

The requests would be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The move came after a 19-year-old Hong Kong man allegedly murdered his 20-year-old pregnant girlfriend while they were holidaying in Taiwan together in February last year.

The man fled to Hong Kong and could not be extradited to Taiwan because the two do not have an extradition treaty.

Hong Kong officials have said courts in the territory will have the final say over whether to grant extradition requests, and suspects accused of political and religious crimes will not be extradited.

The government has also promised to only hand over fugitives for offences carrying a maximum sentence of at least seven years.

Hong Kong has entered into extradition agreements with 20 countries, including the UK and the US, but an agreement with China has never been reached.

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