July 15, 2019 9:30 am
Updated: July 16, 2019 4:28 pm

Hong Kong’s extradition bill is suspended indefinitely. Why are protests continuing?

WATCH ABOVE: Protesters, police in tense stand-off in Hong Kong

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Protests in Hong Kong have continued for about a month after Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam suspended a highly contested extradition bill in June.

The bill, which would have allowed the government to extradite suspects to mainland China to face criminal charges — by an administration known for its severe violation of human rights — was touted as a potentially major blow to Hong Kong’s rule of law.

Millions of protesters took to the streets to oppose the new piece of legislation starting in June. After a temporary suspension on June 15, Lam announced the bill was “dead” weeks later on July 9.

WATCH: Carrie Lam says extradition bill is ‘dead’ following Hong Kong protests


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But with continued waves of protests over the following weeks, both peaceful and violent, it became apparent that the people of Hong Kong had begun to fight for more than just the full withdrawal of the bill.

In both Saturday’s and Sunday’s protests, activists were clear in what they wanted: regulations for Chinese traders that were undercutting local business, an investigation into police violence against civilians and journalists and ultimately, Lam’s resignation.

READ MORE: Hong Kong protesters clash with police on mainland over Chinese traders

Who controls Hong Kong?

The protesters argue that Hong Kong — a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997 — is not truly democratic.

The handover to China resulted in a “one country, two systems” policy that was to be put into place, guaranteeing various freedoms alongside an independent justice system, which critics said was threatened by the extradition bill.

The system, which made Hong Kong into a special administrative region of China, gave it some form of autonomy but still did not make it into a democracy.

READ MORE: Hong Kong is a SAR of China — What that means and how it affects protests

Beijing’s influence came in the form of the loyalists it instilled into the area’s 1,200-person election committee, which appointed Hong Kong’s chief executive position, an exertion of authority that came into effect despite the 2014 Umbrella Revolution protests.

The 2017 election which saw Lam take power only had candidates that were screened by a nominating committee chosen by Beijing.

WATCH: Protesters clash with police in Sheung Shui

The protests continue

After Lam agreed to shelve the extradition bill last month, protests ignited again after a deadline to scrap the bill was missed and during the Osaka-based G20 summit in nearby Japan.

The anniversary of British handover to China, July 1, saw hundreds of protesters storm city’s legislative building on the symbolic day.

READ MORE: China says extradition fight has turned violent, but some protesters show civility

“Democrats in Hong Kong simply cannot accept this suspension decision,” lawmaker Claudia Mo told The Associated Press. “Because the suspension is temporary. The pain is still there.”

The protest over the weekend saw rallies that started peacefully devolve into a bloody clash with police in the Hong Kong-China border town of Sheung Shui.

Protesters argued that Chinese traders who buy Hong Kong goods in bulk only to sell back in China have had the effect of driving up property fees and inflation while dodging taxes and eroding the cultural identity of the town.

READ MORE: Hong Kong is a SAR of China — What that means and how it affects protests

Many on both sides decried the other using violence, with police reported to have used clubs and tear gas to break up the crowd after protesters began to throw helmets and umbrellas.

On Sunday, the northern district of Sha Tin erupted into fierce fighting between hundreds of protesters and police at nightfall.

Protesters called for Lam to step down and for an investigation into what was seen as potentially life-threatening police violence.

“The government, Carrie Lam, some legislators in functional constituencies are not elected by the people, so there are many escalating actions in different districts to reflect different social issues,” said Jimmy Sham of the Civil Human Rights Front to The Associated Press. “If political problems are not solved, social well-being issues will continue to emerge endlessly.”

With files from the Associated Press

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