Hong Kong protesters storm government building over China extradition bill

By Ben Westcott, Jessie Yeung, James Griffiths, Julia Hollingsworth, Steve George and Jenni Marsh, CNN

Updated 3:13 a.m. ET, August 31, 2019
6 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:17 p.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Police and protesters engage in early clashes

From Jennifer Wong for CNN

Protesters set up barricades in Hong Kong ahead of a day of marches and demonstrations on July 1, 2019.
Protesters set up barricades in Hong Kong ahead of a day of marches and demonstrations on July 1, 2019. Kin Cheung/AP

A number of protesters clashed with police in Hong Kong's Central district early Monday.

At about 7:20 a.m. local time, police charged towards protesters who had camped out on the street since 4 a.m. 

According to a statement released by police, protesters have gathered iron poles, bricks from a nearby construction site and guard rails to barricade a road and obstruct traffic. 

Local TV station HKiCable broadcast live video of riot police and protesters surging towards each other, with police holding batons and demonstrators using umbrellas in the clash. 

"Police strongly condemn these illegal acts and warn protesters not to throw bricks or charge police cordon lines. Police appeal to protesters not to resort to violence, stop blocking roads and leave the scene as soon as possible," according to a police statement. 

July 1 is the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British rule to China. The day is usually marked with protests, but not in such a violent and tense fashion.

8:14 p.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Hong Kong is protesting today. Here's what to expect

A protester waves a "black bauhinia" flag as others set up barricades outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong before the flag-raising ceremony on July 1, 2019. 
A protester waves a "black bauhinia" flag as others set up barricades outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong before the flag-raising ceremony on July 1, 2019.  VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP/Getty Images

Today marks the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain to China -- and what has become an annual day of pro-democracy protests.

Tensions have been heightened all summer over a controversial extradition bill, which has led to record-breaking protests.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Flag raising ceremony: As per tradition, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other Hong Kong officials will participate in a flag-raising ceremony at 8 a.m. local time (8 p.m. ET) -- another event that has drawn protests in recent years.
  • Afternoon protests: The main march of the day is expected to start in the early afternoon, about 3 p.m. local time (3 a.m. ET).
  • Weekend of unrest: Some protesters spent last night in the area, after two separate protests on Sunday -- one against the bill and one in support of the Hong Kong police, who the anti-bill protesters accuse of excessive force.
8:35 p.m. ET, June 30, 2019

The grisly murder case that sparked the controversial extradition bill

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, announces that she will delay the controversial extradition bill in Hong Kong on June 15, 2019.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, announces that she will delay the controversial extradition bill in Hong Kong on June 15, 2019. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

The story of Hong Kong's controversial extradition bill -- and the subsequent protests -- all began with a gruesome murder. Here's how the tale unfolded:

A murder on vacation: In February 2018, a Hong Kong couple were vacationing in Taiwan. While they were there, 20-year-old Chan Tong-kai allegedly murdered his 19-year-old girlfriend Poon Hiu-wing, according to local media reports.

The alleged killer headed back to Hong Kong and in March 2018, Poon's decomposed body was found on the outskirts of Taipei.

The killer escapes extradition: Hong Kong authorities charged Chan with money laundering for stealing Poon's property, and he was sentenced to 29 months in jail -- but because Taiwan and Hong Kong do not have an extradition agreement, Chan could not be sent to Taiwan to face a murder trial.

Murder case turned political battle: In February 2019, Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam proposed an extradition bill, which would allow fugitives to be sent to territories where Hong Kong doesn't have formal extradition deals -- such as Taiwan, Macau and mainland China.

It was met with criticism from the start. Critics said they were worried about being subjected to China's opaque legal system -- and the effect it could have on Hong Kong's role as an international finance hub.

Many marched in opposition, and even Taiwan said it would not cooperate with the bill if it was passed. In June, Lam suspended the bill -- but she still hasn't responded to demands to withdraw it entirely.

8:36 p.m. ET, June 30, 2019

The extradition bill that started it all

From CNN's Jessie Yeung and Julia Hollingsworth

Hong Kong pro-Beijing lawmaker Abraham Shek (centre right in white vest) is escorted from a legislative meeting after scuffles broke out between pro-Beijing and pro-democracy lawmakers over the proposed extradition law in the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on May 11, 2019.
Hong Kong pro-Beijing lawmaker Abraham Shek (centre right in white vest) is escorted from a legislative meeting after scuffles broke out between pro-Beijing and pro-democracy lawmakers over the proposed extradition law in the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on May 11, 2019. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Protests over a proposed extradition law really kicked off in June -- but the bill has been in the works for a while.

The government says the bill will plug loopholes in existing laws by allowing Hong Kong to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to send fugitives to territories where it doesn't have formal extradition deals -- such as Taiwan, Macau and mainland China.

But critics warn it could leave anyone on Hong Kong soil vulnerable to being grabbed by Chinese authorities for political reasons or inadvertent business offenses, which could undermine rule of law in the city.

Here's a timeline of Hong Kong's extradition bill:

  • February 13: Government first proposes the extradition bill, citing a murder case in Taiwan where the suspect was a Hongkonger.
  • April 3: First reading of the extradition bill.
  • April 28: Tens of thousands of people protest against the bill, making it one of the biggest demonstrations in years.
  • May 11: Hong Kong lawmakers scuffle in parliament during discussion of the bill.
  • June 12: On the day of the extradition bill’s second reading, protesters block the government buildings and occupy the streets. The second reading is postponed.
  • June 15: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam suspends the controversial bill.

Read more about the controversy here.

7:38 p.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Hong Kong has already been protesting for a month

Tens of thousands of protesters march against a proposed extradition law in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019. 
Tens of thousands of protesters march against a proposed extradition law in Hong Kong on June 16, 2019.  STR/AFP/Getty Images

Today's march comes after a month of protests.

In June, protesters came out on the streets of Hong Kong every few days to voice their opposition to a controversial extradition bill. On a number of occasions, they swarmed around government buildings and brought the city center to a standstill.

Here's a look back at Hong Kong's summer of discontent:

  • June 6: An estimated 3,000 lawyers hold a silent march against the bill.
  • June 9: As many as 1 million people protest the bill, according to organizers — the biggest march since the city was handed back to China in 1997.
  • June 12: On the day of the extradition bill’s second reading in the legislative council, protesters block government buildings and occupy the streets. Riot police arrive and protests turn violent. More than 80 people are injured, including 22 police.
  • June 15: Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspends the bill. A protester falls to his death after climbing a shopping mall while displaying signs calling for the withdrawal of the bill.
  • June 16: An estimated 2 million protesters march, demanding a full withdrawal of the bill and Lam's resignation. Many also criticize the alleged police brutality.
  • June 18: Lam issues a public apology.
  • June 20: Student and pro-democracy groups give Lam until 5 p.m. to respond to their demands to withdraw the bill, resign, and investigate alleged police brutality. Lam does not respond.
  • June 21: Thousands of protesters surround the police headquarters, blocking police from leaving. Protesters throw eggs, but the protest ends peacefully.
  • June 26: Hundreds of protesters march to the US, UK, and European Union consulates in Hong Kong, urging the countries' leaders to support them at the G20 summit in Osaka. At night, protesters surround the police headquarters.
7:45 p.m. ET, June 30, 2019

Why Hong Kong protests on July 1 every year

Protesters at a pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong on July 1, 2016.
Protesters at a pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong on July 1, 2016. ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

On July 1, 1997, Britain handed sovereignty over Hong Kong to China after ruling the colony for more than 150 years.

Under the terms of the handover, the city kept its capitalist economic system, limited political freedoms, and a certain level of autonomy under the principle of "one country, two systems."

Ever since, July 1 been marked by pro-democracy marches, with protesters in recent years expressing fears that China is encroaching on Hong Kong's protected autonomy.

Although the number of protesters has fluctuated over recent years, Monday might see a surge following the controversy over a proposed extradition deal with China. In the past few weeks alone, up to 2 million people have taken to the streets calling for the bill to be withdrawn.

Britain's Prince of Wales delivers his speech during the ceremony commemorating the handover of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997.
Britain's Prince of Wales delivers his speech during the ceremony commemorating the handover of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997. DYLAN MARTINEZ/AFP/Getty Images