Wednesday January 22, 2020
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Sea of Protesters Fills Hong Kong Streets over Extradition Law

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers from all ages and walks of life marched

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Hong Kong residents rallied against a proposed law that would allow extradition to China on Sunday in one of the largest protests in decades. VOA

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers from all ages and walks of life marched on Sunday against a legislative bill that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China to face charges, in the largest demonstration city has seen in years.

Protesters carried banners condemning the proposed law, which would modify Hong Kong’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.

Others carried signs calling for the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has championed the bill despite the fact it has been criticized by a wide range of groups from the Hong Kong Law Society to the American Chamber of Commerce. Critics say China’s legal system would not guarantee the same rights to defendants as they would have in semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

From mid-afternoon until well past nightfall, hundreds of thousands poured in from a major Hong Kong roadway to gather outside Legislative Council, the city’s semi-democratic legislature that is currently debating the bill.

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Many protesters called for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation on Sunday at a demonstration against extradition to China. VOA

Civil Human Rights Front, the protest organizer, estimated the crowd to be more than one million while Hong Kong police said peak participation saw 240,000 people on the streets.

Unlike Hong Kong’s attendees of regular protests on July 1 and October 1, the anniversary of reunification with China and China’s national day, many protesters on Sunday said they rarely attend demonstrations.

“We don’t like the law that the Chinese government can prosecute [us],” said Edwin Lo. “We don’t like the Chinese government should overrule Hong Kong. We want to protect the freedoms in Hong Kong,”

Lo said he had last attended a protest in 2003, when half a million Hong Kongers rallied against national security legislation — a common refrain from many of Sunday’s protesters.

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Many also said they felt that the ordinance was a sign that Beijing was infringing on 50 years of autonomy promised to Hong Kong, a former British colony.

Kay Lam, who attended the protest with several friends, said the feeling amongst many protesters was the same — they might not change anything but they still needed to demonstrate.

“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. “Whether they will listen to us is up to them. As a local resident here in Hong Kong we have the responsibility to at least step out here and show up.”

An amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance was introduced in April and is set to be voted on June 12 by Legislative Council, whose majority is held by pro-establishment legislators.

 

Protesters, Hong Kong, Extradition Law
One in seven Hong Kong residents marched against a proposed law that would allow extradition to China in a record event for autonomous Chinese city. VOA

If passed, it would allow the city to extradite suspected criminals to other jurisdictions where it lacks a permanent extradition agreement, including China and Taiwan, on a case by case basis. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has previously said that such changes would close legal “loopholes.”

The bill follows a high profile murder case last year where a Hong Kong man murdered his pregnant girlfriend on holiday in Taiwan. The government has said speed in the case is necessary as the murder suspect, who is serving a prison sentence on related money laundering charges, could be released as early as October.

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The changes, however, and the speed at which they have been introduced have raised international concern about the future of Hong Kong’s legal system and its global reputation. (VOA)

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New Virus Can Spread Through Human Contact: China

China: Possible That New Virus Could Spread Between Humans

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Security guards stand in front of the closed Huanan wholesale seafood market, where health authorities say a man who died from a respiratory illness had purchased goods from, in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, China. VOA

The possibility that a new virus in central China could spread between humans cannot be ruled out, though the risk of transmission at the moment appears to be low, Chinese officials said Wednesday.

Forty-one people in the city of Wuhan have received a preliminary diagnosis of a novel coronavirus, a family of viruses that can cause both the common cold and more serious diseases. A 61-year-old man with severe underlying conditions died from the coronavirus on Saturday.

While preliminary investigations indicate that most of the patients had worked at or visited a particular seafood wholesale market, one woman may have contracted the virus from her husband, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a public notice.

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Commuters wear protection masks inside a subway train in Hong Kong, China. VOA

The commission said the husband, who fell ill first, worked at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Meanwhile, the wife said she hasn’t had any exposure to the market.

It’s possible that the husband brought home food from the market that then infected his wife, Hong Kong health official Chuang Shuk-kwan said at a news briefing. But because the wife did not exhibit symptoms until days after her husband, it’s also possible that he infected her.

Chuang and other Hong Kong health officials spoke to reporters Wednesday following a trip to Wuhan, where mainland Chinese authorities briefed them on the outbreak.

The threat of human-to-human transmission remains low, Chuang said, as hundreds of people, including medical professionals, have been in close contact with infected individuals and have not been infected themselves.

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She echoed Wuhan authorities’ assertion that there remains no definitive evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The outbreak in Wuhan has raised the specter of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS is a type of coronavirus that first struck southern China in late 2002. It then spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 people. (VOA)