A Hong Kong Legislative Council official says no time has been set aside for debate on a highly controversial extradition law that has drawn large-scale protests. The announcement Thursday from council official Cicely Wong appeared to show the impact of Wednesday's street demonstrations, along with statements of concern from foreign governments, business associations and the legal profession. Those voices have joined with human rights and supporters of the free press who have long warned of growing restrictions on civil rights in the former British colony that returned to Chines rule in 2019. Traffic was restored in the city the day after the clashes between police and protesters who oppose the legislation that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China where they could face unfair trials on political charges. After days of silence, Chinese state media is characterizing the largely peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong as a "riot" and accusing protesters of "violent acts." Hundreds of thousands of people filled streets in Hong Kong in recent days to oppose proposed legislation that would allow crime suspects to be extradited to mainland China, where critics say they would be subject to vague charges and unfair trials.
In an editorial featuring a photo of a bloodied officer, the state-run China Daily said Wednesday evening that protesters are using the bill "to tarnish the image of the government." Xinhua state news agency said protesters used "sharpened iron poles" and bricks against police. Police officers fired tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets at demonstrators Wednesday. About 70 people were hurt. Traffic has been restored in the heart of Hong Kong a day after clashes between police and protesters who oppose legislation that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Heavy rain Thursday morning kept fresh protests from following those Wednesday by thousands of activists who shut down government headquarters and the Legislative Council on the day it was to debate the extradition bill. More than 70 people were hurt. Police fired tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets after well-organized protesters breached their cordon, forcing the assembly to postpone the debate. Protesters said they were seeking to block the passage of the legislation they see as part of Beijing's moves to tighten its grip over the former British colony.