Hong Kong legislators fight physically over extradition bill

A fight broke out in the Hong Kong legislature Saturday as some lawmakers literally fought over a proposal allow criminal suspects there to be extradited to mainland China.

Pro-government lawmakers and Pan-democrat lawmakers scuffle during a chaotic session at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong Saturday.
Pro-government lawmakers and Pan-democrat lawmakers scuffle during a chaotic session at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong Saturday.

The emotional outburst was one of the clearest signs of the lack of trust remaining between China and the semiautonomous island city of Hong Kong since it was handed over by Britain in 1997.
The bill hinged on a Hong Kong man who could have gone free after being suspected in killing his girlfriend in Taiwan, The New York Times reported.

While pro-democracy and Beijing-supporting lawmakers agreed that the man should remain detained, they bitterly differed on whether he should be extradited to mainland China where the legal system is influenced by the Communist Party.
Critics of the law continued to voice their opposition, even after legislatures limited the crimes residents can be extradited to China for.

Complicating matters was Taiwan’s push to have the man, identified as Chan Tong-kai, extradited there, but China claims the self-governing island as part of its territory.

Fighting erupted on the legislative floor when two committees tried to reconcile competing bills over the extradition issue. Legislator Gary Fan was removed from the floor on a stretcher after he fell while trying to take a microphone away from another lawmaker.
The bill, which is still under consideration, would allow transfers on a case-by-case basis to all jurisdictions that the city is yet to sign an extradition deal with, including Taiwan and mainland China, the South China Morning Post reported.

Leading Hong Kong officials called for passage of the bill but it remained stalled in a filibuster. Opponents continued to complain about possible unfair trials and a lack of human rights protections.

The proposed bill has led to protests in Hong Kong last month where demonstrators demanded that lawmakers kill it.

ByClyde Hughes