A protester holds a sign while police negotiate to clear roads in Hong Kong early on June 17, 2019. Chinese state media remained largely silent as an estimated two million Hong Kong people took to the streets to protest an extradition bill, with social platforms scrubbed clean of any pictures or mentions of the rally.
AFP/Isaac Lawrence
China stays mum as Hong Kong protests extradition bill
(Agence France-Presse) - June 17, 2019 - 9:01am

BEIJING, China — Chinese state media remained largely silent as an estimated two million Hong Kong people took to the streets Sunday to protest an extradition bill, with social platforms scrubbed clean of any pictures or mentions of the rally.

Hong Kong's government has been rocked in recent days by massive demonstrations -- and some violence -- which forced the city's embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam to indefinitely suspend passage of the bill.

Early Monday, China's official Xinhua news agency issued a four-paragraph report noting suspension of the measure, "having regard to the strong and different views in society".

Xinhua said Lam had apologized to the people and pledged to make improvements in serving them after "deficiencies" in the Hong Kong government's work "led to substantial controversies and disputes in society."

The report made no mention of Sunday's protest in which crowds choked the streets of the financial hub, calling for Lam's resignation.

Critics fear the Beijing-backed law will entangle people in China's notoriously opaque and politicised courts and damage the city's reputation as a safe place for business. 

Except for a short opinion piece in the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, Chinese state media -- which has drummed up support for the bill in recent weeks -- remained mum Sunday after Lam's climbdown.

China's state broadcaster, CCTV, avoided the subject in its main news bulletins throughout the day.

The proposed law that would allow extraditions to the mainland was "supported by mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong", the People's Daily article said.

Opposing 'intervention of external forces'

"The general public is looking forward to blocking legal loopholes to prevent Hong Kong becoming a haven for sinners," it added.

China has blamed the protests on what it says is a small group of organisers who are colluding with Western governments.

The People's Daily echoed the oft-repeated government line that "it resolutely opposes the intervention of external forces in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs".

It also supported the option chosen by pro-Beijing Lam to put the bill on the backburner, saying it was an opportunity to "further listen to opinions".

Searches on China's Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo for "Hong Kong protests" only yielded official Chinese foreign ministry statements. The ministry has called such rallies "riots" or "behaviour that undermines Hong Kong's peace and stability".

There were no photos of black-clad protesters walking with banners critical of the bill, or people leaving flowers at the site where a young man fell to his death protesting the law.

Videos of police using pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters -- which had left Hong Kong public seething -- were also absent from Chinese social media.

Websites such as Twitter and Facebook -- accessible in semi-autonomous Hong Kong -- are blocked on the mainland.

Beijing was already on edge this month as it tightened security and stepped up online censorship to ensure that the 30th anniversary of the brutal June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown would go by quietly.

CHINA EXTRADITION HONG KONG
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 20, 2019 - 3:50pm

Millions march in Hong Kong in a powerful rebuke of an extradition law feared to expose them to China's capricious justice system.

October 20, 2019 - 3:50pm

Large crowds of Hong Kongers defy a police ban and began an illegal march on Sunday, their numbers swollen by anger over the recent stabbing and beating of two pro-democracy protesters.

Authorities had forbidden the march in Tsim Sha Tsui, a densely packed shopping district filled with luxury boutiques and hotels, citing public safety and previous violence from hardcore protesters.

But thousands joined the unsanctioned rally regardless as the movement tries to keep up pressure on the city's pro-Beijing leaders after nearly five months of rallies and political unrest. -- Agence France-Presse

October 19, 2019 - 2:46pm

Supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement make their presence felt as the Brooklyn Nets played their first game in New York since they were caught in the middle of the NBA's rift with China.

Tensions between Beijing and the American basketball league erupted this month after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image in support of the demonstrations that have rocked the financial hub for months. 

China has portrayed the protesters as violent separatists and the backlash against Morey's comments has cast a cloud over the NBA's lucrative broadcasting, merchandising and sponsorship interests in the country, where it has legions of fans. — AFP

October 18, 2019 - 4:08pm

China denies that it demanded that the NBA fire a Houston Rockets executive over a tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey ignited a firestorm earlier this month with a tweeted image captioned "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."

It came right before the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets arrived in China for what proved to be a tense two-game exhibition tour, with broadcasters refusing to air the games and local sponsors cutting ties with the NBA. — AFP

October 18, 2019 - 11:57am

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says China demanded that a Houston Rockets executive be sacked for supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, adding that the league's row with Beijing had "substantial" financial consequences.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey ignited a firestorm earlier this month with a tweeted image captioned "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."

It came right before the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets arrived in China for what proved to be a tense two-game exhibition tour, with broadcasters there refusing to air the games, public protests against Morey's comments and local sponsors cutting ties with the NBA. — AFP

October 10, 2019 - 1:15pm

Apple has removed a Hong Kong map application used by pro-democracy protesters, saying it endangered police, after China warned the US tech giant to drop the app.

According to a statement published by the makers of HKmap.live, Apple says "your app has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong".

The financial hub has been gripped by protests for four months, and there have been regular clashes between hardcore demonstrators and police. — AFP

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