China extradition bill: Why are people protesting in Hong Kong?

Mong Kok pedestrian zone crowds

Factbox: What Hong Kong people are saying about controversial China extradition bill

"This is an evil law".

But critics fear the law would entangle people in China's opaque and politicised court system and say the government is using the Taiwan case as a Trojan Horse.

Protesters, marching in the sweltering heat dressed in white, include a wide range of people - from business people and lawyers to students, pro-democracy figures and religious groups.

US and European officials have issued formal warnings - concern matched by worldwide business and human rights lobbies that fear the changes would dent Hong Kong's rule of law.

"I come here to fight", said a wheelchair-bound, 78-year-old man surnamed Lai, who was among the first to arrive at Victoria Park.

She also mentioned that if the bill is passed, the very likely to suspend Hong Kong's status as an independent tariff region, further causing distress to China's economy. "That has an impact on my future".

"No matter what, no matter they listen to us or not we have to step out, because it is to show not only the Hong Kong government but the people around the world that we have a voice and we disagree with what they are doing", Lam said.

People of all ages took part in the march, some pushing strollers and others carrying canes, chanting slogans in the native Cantonese dialect in favor of greater transparency in government. Water refill stations have been set up by volunteers, too. The city's pro-democracy movement has been hard hit since then because protesters failed to gain any concessions from the government after they occupied the heart of the city for 79 days.

But the proposal has gridlocked the city's Legislative Council, which is roughly divided between pro-democratic and pro-Beijing camps.

"That is why so many young people are still out right now", he said.

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The changes will allow for extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau for suspects accused of criminal wrongdoing such as murder and rape.

"I think this law will take away our freedoms if it is implemented", said Peter Lam, a 16-year-old high school student.

Hong Kong officials say suspects who are facing charges with a maximum of at least seven years will be the only ones affected. The demonstration capped weeks of growing outrage in the business, diplomatic and legal communities, which fear corrosion of Hong Kong's legal autonomy and the difficulty of ensuring basic judicial protections in mainland China.

But a special agreement with China - called "one country, two systems" - means that Hong Kong still has a number of differences to the rest of China. When the Hong Kong dollar becomes Renminbi, Taiwan's wealth reserve in Hong Kong will become more interactive with China' economy, and Hong Kong will also lose its position as the financial center of Asia, Yu added.

Many protesters on Sunday said they no longer trust the Hong Kong government to stick to promises that critics would never be sent to the mainland.

The marchers will slowly make their way through the crowded Causeway Bay and Wanchai shopping and residential districts to Hong Kong's parliament, where debates will start on Wednesday into government amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.

If passed, the law would affect Hong Kongers, Taiwanese and foreigners alike, Lam said.

A long-forgotten issue, the need for an eventual extradition deal with the mainland was acknowledged by government officials and experts ahead of Hong Kong's handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under the "one country, two systems" model.

The city has its own laws and its residents enjoy civil liberties unavailable to their mainland counterparts.

Such a move would be in direct contravention of the conditions mandated when the United Kingdom handed its former colony back to communist China in 1997, Reuters reports.

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