HONG KONG (Reuters) - Millions of people have taken to the streets in the past three weeks to protest against a proposed extradition bill that has plunged Hong Kong into political crisis and triggered calls for embattled leader Carrie Lam to step down.
Amendments to the Fugitives Offenders Ordinance bill would have allowed individuals, including foreigners, to be sent to mainland China to face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party. The changes were seen by many as a threat to the rule of law in the former British colony.
Lam suspended the bill after some of the largest and most violent protests in decades but has stopped short of protesters’ demands to scrap it.
Following is a timeline of the key dates around the extradition bill and the protests it triggered.
February 2019 – Hong Kong’s Security Bureau submits a paper to the city’s legislature proposing amendments to extradition laws that would provide for case-by-case extraditions to countries, including mainland China, beyond the 20 states with which Hong Kong already has treaties.
March 2019 - Thousands take to the streets of Hong Kong to protest against the proposed extradition bill. The American Chamber of Commerce expresses serious reservations in a submission to Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security, John Lee. It says the bill will “undermine perceptions of Hong Kong as a safe and secure haven for international business operations”.
April 3, 2019 – Carrie Lam’s government introduces amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition laws that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Opponents say the changes would put them at the mercy of Chinese courts, controlled by the Communist Party, with a record of arbitrary detentions, torture and other human rights violations.
April 28, 2019 – Tens of thousands of people march on Hong Kong’s parliament to demand the scrapping of the proposed extradition laws.
May 8, 2019 – A U.S. congressional commission says the proposed extradition bill could extend China’s “coercive reach” into the financial hub and create serious risks for U.S. national security and economic interests in the city.
May 11, 2019 – Scuffles break out in Hong Kong’s legislature between pro-democracy lawmakers and those loyal to Beijing over the extradition bill.
May 14, 2019 – Hong Kong legislators clash over the proposed law, with some democrats shouting “Scrap the evil law”.
May 21, 2019 – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says her administration is determined to push through the bill despite mounting opposition locally and internationally. Authorities say they will bypass normal legislative procedures to expedite the bill.
May 24, 2019 - The European Union issues a formal diplomatic “demarche” protest note to Hong Kong’s leader over the extradition bill during a meeting of nearly a dozen diplomats from various EU nations, including the United Kingdom.
May 30, 2019 – Hong Kong introduces concessions to the extradition bill, including limiting the scope of extraditable offences, but critics say they are not enough. Canada and Britain say it is vital that extradition arrangements fully respect the city’s high degree of autonomy from China.
June 4, 2019 – More than 120,000 students, alumni, staff and parents from 185 secondary schools sign a petition against the extradition law.
June 6, 2019 – More than 3,000 Hong Kong lawyers take to the streets dressed in black in a rare protest march against the extradition law. Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, says the bill is a “terrible blow” to the rule of law.
June 9, 2019 – Protest organisers say around a million people rally against the extradition bill in a march to government headquarters. Violent skirmishes break out late at night between activists and police. Police put the protest numbers at 240,000.
June 10, 2019 – Hong Kong vows to press ahead with the extradition bill despite the mass protest. The United States says it is gravely concerned about the proposed amendments.
June 11, 2019 – Lam remains defiant as she again vows to push ahead with extradition bill.
June 12, 2019 – Police fire rubber bullets and 150 canisters of tear gas as the extradition bill triggers the city’s largest and most violent protests in decades.
June 13, 2019 – Hong Kong authorities shut government offices after a day of violence. China’s foreign ministry condemns the behaviour of protesters and voices support for the government.
June 14, 2019 – Lam indefinitely delays the proposed extradition law in a dramatic retreat after violent street protests.
June 16, 2019 – Lam issues a written apology to the public after the second massive protest in a week that organisers said drew around 2 million people.
June 18, 2019 – Lam signals the end of the controversial bill but refuses to step down or say the bill is withdrawn. She apologises in person.
June 21, 2019 - Thousands of demonstrators blockade police headquarters as the city braced itself for a third weekend of mass protests.
June 24, 2019 - Beijing says it will not allow leaders at the G20 meeting in Japan to discuss the Hong Kong issue.
June 25, 2019 - Britain bans sales of tear gas to Hong Kong.
June 26, 2019 - Hong Kong activists call on G20 leaders to help “liberate” the city.
June 27, 2019 - Fresh protests hit Hong Kong as activists seek a voice at the G20.
June 28, 2019 - Anti-extradition protesters rally again near government headquarters.
July 1, 2019 - Fresh protests erupt as Hong Kong marks the 22nd anniversary of the handover from British to Chinese rule.
Compiled by Anne Marie Roantree and Delfina Wentzel; Editing by Paul Tait