(June 13): Hong Kong lawmakers said it was unclear whether they would resume their debate Thursday on legislation that would allow extraditions to China, amid the threat of more mass protests like those that led police to unleash tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators.
Overnight, police began clearing several road blocks to reopen thoroughfares closed off Wednesday as thousands of protesters converged on the Legislative Council, preventing discussions from getting underway. U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in on the turmoil that left dozens injured, saying he was sure that Hong Kong and China would “work it out.”
Here are the latest developments (all times Hong Kong):
Protesters Return (10:45 a.m.)
A small crowd of protesters -- many of them young people wearing surgical masks to hide their identities -- began gathering on a covered walkway in Admiralty, the central area that was ground zero for Wednesday’s demonstrations. They appeared to be re-provisioning to stay, with water bottles, hard hats and bags of food.
Opposition Speaks (10:12 a.m.)
Opposition lawmakers repeated calls for Lam to withdraw the bill at a briefing on Thursday. Claudia Mo, who’s been vocal throughout the protests, told reporters it looked unlikely that the legislature would re-open at 11 a.m. -- or for the rest of the day. Government headquarters next door to the council building was also shut down for the day. They also criticized Wednesday’s violence. “As we have seen yesterday, the force the police used was disproportionate,” said Wu Chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party. Police have defended the use of tear gas and rubber bullets, calling it a “riot” situation.
Beijing Reports (8:37 a.m.)
One of China’s most widely read state media outlets -- which had held off on reporting the Hong Kong protests -- finally weighed in. The official Xinhua News Agency said in a news story that Wednesday’s demonstrations were a “disturbance.”
China’s tightly-controlled state media has thus far dismissed the protests in support of the Hong Kong government. The state-run Global Times pointed to international interference and “collusion” in writing off last weekend’s mass demonstration in the city, in which hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets.
Debate to Resume (7:40 a.m.)
Opposition lawmakers Claudia Mo and Alvin Yeung said the Legislative Council has rescheduled debate for 11 a.m., although the body’s president, Andrew Leung, hasn’t yet announced the move. Leung had slated 66 hours of debate on dozens of amendments introduced by the opposition, proceedings that were originally expected to wrap up June 20.
Police Clear Streets (6:30 a.m.)
There were no signs of organized protests around Hong Kong government offices in Admiralty Thursday morning, save for masks, umbrellas and other things discarded during Wednesday’s demonstrations. Police had reopened several roads in the affected area including Harcourt Road and Queensway. Still, protesters could soon return, with Radio Television Hong Kong reporting that opponents of the bill have been asked to muster again at 7 a.m.
Government Complex Shut (6:08 a.m.)
The Hong Kong government said it would close Central Government Offices on Thursday and Friday, citing security concerns. Staff working there were advised not to go to the office and should work in accordance with contingency plans. All visits to the government headquarters will be postponed or canceled.
MTR Station Closed (5:55 a.m.)
Service at the metro station serving the government center and business district at the center of the protest zone in Admiralty has been suspended at the requested of the police, Radio Television Hong Kong reports.
U.S. Cautions ‘All Sides’ (2:09 a.m.)
A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department in Washington spoke out against the proposed legislation but encouraged “all sides” to avoid violence. “People are protesting as it relates to this proposed legislation because they don’t want to be subjugated to the Chinese as it relates to some of their fundamental rights,” Morgan Ortagus, the spokeswoman, said on Wednesday in Washington. “That framework puts at risk Hong Kong’s long-established status in international affairs.”
Trump Speaks (12:18 a.m.)
Trump said he was confident that Hong Kong and China would resolve their differences over the proposed extradition law. “I hope it all works out for China and for Hong Kong,” Trump said Wednesday during a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House. “I’m sure they’ll be able to work it out.”
Protest Injuries (12:14 a.m.)
Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority confirmed that 72 people have been injured in the protests. At least 50 men and 22 women are being treated in seven public hospitals, according to a spokesperson.
Lam Urges Order (8:35 p.m., Wednesday)
In a brief video statement, the city’s leader urged a return to order. “I hope society will return to order quickly and no one gets hurts in riots again. I urge everyone who loves this place to stay away from violence,” she said, sounding resolute. “I believe Hong Kong as a civilized society, can use peaceful and rational methods to solve any problems. - Bloomberg