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Monday August 19th, 2019 9:04PM

The Latest: Hong Kong police use tear gas on protesters

By The Associated Press
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HONG KONG (AP) — Latest on the debate around Hong Kong extradition legislation (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

Hong Kong police have used tear gas, pepper spray and high-pressure water hoses against protesters who have laid siege to government buildings to oppose a contentious extradition bill.

Thousands of protesters blocked entry to Hong Kong's government headquarters Wednesday, delaying a legislative session on a proposed extradition bill that has become a lightning rod for concerns over greater Chinese control and erosion of civil liberties in the territory.

The protesters overflowed onto a major downtown road as they overturned barriers and tussled with police outside the building that also houses the chambers where the legislature was to discuss the bill, which would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be sent for trial in mainland China.

A statement from a Hong Kong administrator earlier said, "I would also like to ask the people in this gathering to stay calm and leave the scene as soon as possible and not to commit any crime."

Cheung gave no indication of when the delayed legislative debate would begin.

___

3:30 p.m.

Hong Kong officials are calling on protesters to leave the area where huge crowds are blocking streets to government headquarters and have delayed debate over a highly contentious extradition bill.

The second reading of the bill that would allow suspects to face trials in mainland China was due Wednesday. Protesters and police clashed intermittently, with protesters hurling traffic cones and other objects and police responding with pepper spray.

In a statement read to reporters, Chief Secretary for Administration Mathew Cheung said, "The Hong Kong government calls on people who are blocking roads to ... go back to the pavement as soon as possible."

He added, "I would also like to ask the people in this gathering to stay calm and leave the scene as soon as possible and not to commit any crime."

Cheung gave no indication of when the legislative debate would begin.

___

2 p.m.

Dozens of people are protesting outside the Hong Kong Consulate in Taiwan to denounce proposed amendments to Hong Kong's extradition laws.

Hong Kong students sitting outside the consulate in Taipei held posters reading "No extradition to China" and chanting "Hong Kong government, Shame on you."

Ho Wing Tung, a Hong Kong student in Taiwan, said the rule of law won't exist if the legislation passes and she is afraid the "one country, two systems" principle would become a joke.

Dissident Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee, who left Hong Kong for Taiwan over extradition fears, said the extradition law amendments go against human rights.

In Hong Kong, thousands of protesters were blocking entry to Hong Kong's government headquarters. A legislative session to debate the bill has been delayed.

___

11 a.m.

The secretariat of Hong Kong's Legislative Council says it has delayed the start of a legislative session on a contentious extradition bill as protesters massed outside to block entry to the chamber and government headquarters.

A statement from the government's press service said the session scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday would be "changed to a later time to be determined" by the secretariat. Council members would be notified of the time of the meeting later, the statement said.

An overwhelmingly young crowd of demonstrators filled roads in the Wan Chai district to block access to the government offices. Many took the day off from work and classes to press their case that the amendments to the extradition bill would erode the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's civil liberties.

___

10:30 a.m.

Hundreds of protesters have blocked access to Hong Kong's legislature and government headquarters in a bid to block debate on a highly controversial extradition bill that would allow accused people to be sent to China for trial.

The overwhelmingly young crowd of demonstrators filled roads in the Wan Chai district. Many had taken the day off from work and classes Wednesday to press their case that the amendments to the extradition bill would erode the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's civil liberties.

Under its "one country, two systems" framework, Hong Kong was guaranteed its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years following its handover from British rule in 1997. However, China's ruling Communist Party has been seen as increasingly reneging on that agreement by forcing through unpopular legal changes.

___

8:50 a.m.

Hundreds of protesters have surrounded government headquarters in Hong Kong as the territory's legislature prepare to open discussion on a highly controversial extradition law that would allow residents accused of wrongdoing to be sent to China for trial.

The overwhelmingly young crowd of demonstrators overturned barriers and tussled with police Wednesday morning as they sought to enter government headquarters and offices of the Legislative Council.

Under its "one country, two systems" framework, Hong Kong was guaranteed the right to retain its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years following its handover from British rule in 1997. However, China's ruling Communist Party has been seen as increasingly reneging on that agreement by forcing through unpopular legal changes.

A vote on the amended laws is scheduled for June 20.

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