Hong Kong pro­test­ers call for Bri­tish back­ing

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Sophia Yan CHINA COR­RE­SPON­DENT in Hong Kong

Pro­test­ers in Hong Kong op­posed to the leg­isla­tive coun­cil’s con­tro­ver­sial bill to al­low ex­tra­di­tion to China have called for greater sup­port from the UK Gov­ern­ment. It came as Amnesty In­ter­na­tional crit­i­cised the ap­par­ent use of Bri­tish-made CS gas can­is­ters against de­mon­stra­tors dur­ing clashes with riot po­lice on Wed­nes­day. The leg­isla­tive coun­cil will re­main shut for a third day fol­low­ing al­most a week of public protests, with de­bate on the bill suspended in­def­i­nitely.

DE­MON­STRA­TORS in Hong Kong are calling on Bri­tain to voice stronger op­po­si­tion against the Chi­nese ex­tra­di­tion bill that has trig­gered mass protests and rare scenes of vi­o­lence.

On the day after hun­dreds of thou­sands took to the streets to block par­lia­ment from de­bat­ing the pro­posed laws, some pro­test­ers turned their anger to­ward their for­mer colo­nial rulers.

Jessica Ye­ung, 50, a uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor on hunger strike, asked: “Is Bri­tain go­ing to hon­our its prom­ise to the Hong Kong peo­ple that our way of life will not be threat­ened after they handed us over to the Chi­nese?”

Stand­ing by the city’s main gov­ern­ment build­ing as rows of riot po­lice watched a few me­tres away, she told The Daily Tele­graph: “Bri­tain told us to trust them, so we trusted them. But the UK has let us down ter­ri­bly.”

Pic­tures ap­pear­ing to show Bri­tish­made CS gas can­is­ters be­ing fired at civil­ians have been cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia since Wed­nes­day. The can­is­ters are be­lieved to have been man­u­fac­tured by the Bri­tish de­fence con­trac­tor Chem­ring De­fence.

Oliver Feeley-sprague, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional UK’S mil­i­tary, se­cu­rity and po­lice pro­gramme di­rec­tor, said: “The use of tear gas against civil­ians is shock­ing, and we want the UK Gov­ern­ment to pre­vent any fur­ther sup­plies of crowd con­trol equip­ment supplied to Hong Kong that risks be­ing used to threaten le­git­i­mate protests.”

Pro­test­ers sur­rounded the Hong Kong par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day, de­mand­ing lead­ers scrap a plan to send in­di­vid­u­als to face trial in main­land China’s le­gal sys­tem, where the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party con­trols the courts.

Hong Kong’s leg­is­la­ture will shut for a third day to­day, and rounds of de­bate over the ex­tra­di­tion bill that were pre­vi­ously sched­uled for this week have been suspended in­def­i­nitely. But a vote could still be rushed through.

Yes­ter­day, protest lead­ers called for an­other city­wide march on Sun­day. Last Sun­day’s turnout was es­ti­mated at more than a mil­lion peo­ple.

Un­der the 1997 Sino-bri­tish Joint Dec­la­ra­tion, the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple guar­an­teed the com­mu­nist sys­tem of China would not be im­posed in Hong Kong for “at least” 50 years. But many say those rights are be­ing in­fringed by Bei­jing, and that the UK must take re­spon­si­bil­ity in hold­ing China to ac­count. Some pro­test­ers waved Union flags in acts of de­fi­ance dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s protests.

Phoebe Ng, 21, a uni­ver­sity stu­dent, who also took part in mass protests five years ago, said: “Def­i­nitely we feel be­trayed.”

Wing Chan, 21, a uni­ver­sity stu­dent, said: “They [Bri­tain] can do more be­cause it is im­por­tant for the econ­omy and for free­doms.”

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