Havoc in Hong Kong Legislature Over Extradition Bill Express News

HONG KONG — Anger over a proposal that would let people suspected of crimes be extradited to mainland China led to pandemonium in Hong Kong’s legislature on Saturday, as lawmakers scuffled and at least one was carried out of the chamber on a stretcher.

It was the most vivid display to date of the deep divide in the semiautonomous Chinese city over the legislation. Tens of thousands of people marched on the Legislative Council last month to protest the bill, the largest demonstration in Hong Kong since the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014.

The bill would let Hong Kong’s government send people suspected of crimes to jurisdictions with which it does not currently have extradition agreements. The government says it is urgently needed because a Hong Kong man accused of killing his girlfriend in Taiwan last year could otherwise go free.

Both sides of the dispute agree that the man should face trial. But opposition lawmakers, rights groups, lawyers’ associations, foreign governments and prominent voices in Hong Kong’s powerful business community have expressed concern that the extradition bill would subject people in the city to the mainland Chinese legal system, which is opaque and heavily influenced by the governing Communist Party.

The government has said it needs the bill’s broad authorization for extraditions to keep the city from becoming a haven for criminal suspects. But opponents say opening up extraditions to mainland China would further erode the unique legal status of Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to China in 1997 under a framework called “one country, two systems.” That arrangement allows the city its own government and legal and economic systems, as well as far better protection of civil liberties than on the mainland.

The report also said the bill could violate provisions of the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which outlines American policy toward the city. Under that legislation, if Hong Kong is deemed to be insufficiently autonomous from China, the president can suspend agreements with the city on trade, investment, visas and extraditions.

Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s commerce secretary, said the questions raised by the American commission’s report showed why Hong Kong lawmakers needed to examine the proposal “so that we can make the bill workable and we can allow different views to be expressed.”

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