Protesters in Hong Kong have continued their protest against the extradition bill.
The group took to the city’s legislature building on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to postpone a second round of debate on the bill which would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.
Many of the protesters skipped school and work, defied police threats, passed around provisions including medical supplies, googles, water and food.
The protesters, dressed in black, erected barricades as they prepared to hunker down for an extended occupation of the area, in scenes reminiscent of pro-democracy “Occupy” protests that gridlocked the former British colony in 2014.
They rallied round in and around Lung Wo Road, a main east-west artery near the offices of embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, as hundreds of riot police, some armed with batons and plastic shields, warned them to stop advancing.
“Didn’t we say at the end of the Umbrella movement we would be back?” pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said, referring to the name often used for the “Occupy” demonstrations.
“Now we are back!” she said as supporters echoed her words.
Some protesters called for Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam – who has maintained her stand on the bill – to step down.
Opposition to the bill on Sunday triggered Hong Kong’s biggest political demonstration since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “once country, two systems” deal guaranteeing it special autonomy, including freedom of assembly, free press and independent judiciary.
Many accuse China of extensive meddling since then, including obstruction of democratic reforms, interference with local elections and of being behind the disappearance of five Hong Kong-based booksellers, starting in 2015, who specialized in works critical of Chinese leaders.
Debate on the bill, which was scheduled to take place today, would be delayed until further notice.
The legislature is controlled by a pro-Beijing majority.
Beijing has reiterated that the “one country, two systems” formula is best for maintaining long-term prosperity and stability.
“The practice of ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong has achieved remarkable success. This is an undeniable objective fact,” Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan told a regular news briefing in Beijing.
The proposed bill has attracted widespread criticism at home and abroad, prompting rare criticism from judges, Hong Kong’s business community, some pro-establishment figures and several foreign governments and business chambers.
Under the proposed bill, residents in Hong Kong – including foreigners and nationals – living or travelling through the city, are at risk if they are wanted in mainland China.