Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung has urged anti-extradition law protesters occupying roads in Admiralty to leave peacefully.

The protests prevented a scheduled Legislative Council meeting from proceeding which was set to debate the controversial extradition bill.

Matthew Cheung. Photo: GovHK.

In a video message issued at around 1pm, Cheung said people occupying roads should go back to the pavements as soon as possible so that traffic can resume.

“I urge people who gathered to keep calm, restrained, and disperse peacefully as soon as possible, and do not try to break the law,” he said.

Photo: Mark Delecate/HKFP.Matthew Cheung

Cheung maintained that the government had been explaining the extradition bill to the public over the past few months.

He said the administration has improved the protection of human rights in the bill: “It is legally binding.”

“The government stresses that the extradition bill only targets those fugitives who committed serious crimes, and not law-abiding people. We will protect people’s rights and benefits, we will defend Hong Kong’s rule of law, to manifest justice so that Hong Kong will not be a haven for fugitives,” he said.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The legal amendments were tabled in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements, most notably China and Taiwan.

It would enable the chief executive and local courts to handle extradition requests without legislative oversight. However, democrats, lawyers, journalistsforeign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights safeguards.

Pro-Beijing lawmakers

Commercial Radio reported that some pro-Beijing lawmakers had boarded a vehicle which left Central Police Station.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

However, no pro-Beijing lawmaker has made any statements on what will happen next.

Democratic Party Chair Wu Chi-wai also demanded LegCo President Andrew Leung cancel meetings debating extradition bill, after Wednesday’s meeting was postponed: “Hong Kong is on the brink of crisis – everyone has to do their best to be sincere to resolve our problem,” Wu said.

Photo: Mark Delecate/HKFP.

Accountancy sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung said democrats lack votes to reject the extradition bill and the situation depends on Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

“Carrie Lam should reflect the real sentiments of Hong Kong to the central government,” he said. “Think about this – there will only be more and more young people gathering outside [Legislative Council].”

He added that foreign countries are considering retracting existing extradition agreements with Hong Kong.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.