Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised concerns about Hong Kong with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 leaders’ summit on Friday, amid protests in Osaka over the controversial extradition law.

osaka g20 protest extradition (1)
Photo: HKers in Osaka.

Foreign Press Secretary Takeshi Osuga said that Abe had emphasised the importance of a “free and open Hong Kong” under the One Country Two Systems framework, with reference to recent anti-extradition bill protests, as well as respect for human rights for those including the Uighur minority group in China’s Xinjiang, The New York Times reported.

China extradition protest admiralty clash
Photo: Todd R. Darling/HKFP.

Abe’s remarks came as an appeal to G20 countries to raise concerns about Hong Kong appeared in over 10 leading international newspapers on Friday after a local crowdfunding campaign to print the full-page ads surpassed its target of HK$3 million with contributions from 20,000 donors.

The city has been rocked by several weeks of protests sparked by legal amendments proposed in February, which would allow it to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements, such as China. Critics have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections. Although the bill was suspended on June 15, the protests have morphed into a wider public display of discontent over dwindling freedoms, democracy and alleged police brutality.

Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. Photo: Wikicommons.

On Thursday, a group of Hong Kong protesters rallied in the Japanese city against the extradition bill and Chinese involvement in the city.

The protesters said they were pleading not “to be murdered like the students on the 4th of June, 1989, or be imprisoned in re-education concentration camps,” adding: “It is unclear if the G20 summit would be a pivotal point, or solace before the storm for Hong Kong.”

The collective said they were not affiliated with any larger organisation.

osaka g20 protest extradition (1)
Photo: HKers in Osaka.

The G20 summit is taking place between Friday and Saturday, and will see world leaders from the European Union and 19 countries with the largest economies convene to discuss pressing financial and economic issues.

But Beijing has said it will not allow discussion of the Hong Kong issue during the G20 summit and warned countries against interfering in its internal affairs.

osaka g20 protest extradition (1)
Photo: HKers in Osaka.

Xi’s visit to Osaka for the summit is the first time in nine years that a Chinese president has visited Japan. In 2010, Hu Jintao visited then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

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Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.