Hong Kong legislators fight physically over extradition bill

Legislative Council Leg Co Complex

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.

Hong Kong is trying to enact changes to its extradition law, that would allow people accused of a crime, including foreigners, to be extradited from the city to countries without formal extradition agreements, including mainland China.

Hong Kong was guaranteed the right to retain its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years following its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1996 under a policy dubbed "one country, two system".

Tempers boiled over when pro-democracy assembly members and the pro-Beijing majority tried to hold separate hearings on the bill.

At least one lawmaker was taken from the chamber on a gurney after apparently fainting during the morning melee, in which legislators pushed and shoved each other on the floor, amid seats and tables and in an adjoining hallway.

The legislator removed by paramedics was identified as Gary Fan Kwok-wai of Neo Democrats.

"We couldn't possibly agree to the suggestion that our meeting chaired by James To should be suspended in any way, because it is completely constitutional and legal", pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said after the meeting.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Shek insisted it was "legal" for him to chair the session.

Debate over a controversial extradition law turned violent in Hong Kong after wound-up legislators fought each other amid a crowd of reporters. The International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said the bill has "gross inadequacies" which could mean people risk "losing freedom, property and even their life".

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They were brawling Saturday over controversial changes to an extradition treaty with mainland China.

The United States weighed into the controversy this week when a USA congressional commission said the law could extend China's "coercive reach" and create serious risks for US national security and economic interests in Hong Kong.

While Taiwan has sought his extradition, Hong Kong officials say they can not help as they do not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan.

China rejected that saying Hong Kong affairs were an internal matter.

She has cited the case of a Hong Kong man who allegedly murdered his girlfriend in Taiwan previous year, and who has since fled back to Hong Kong, as a major reason for rushing through the legislation with minimal public consultation.

The Hong Kong government will continue to liaise with Taiwan over the homicide case, Cheung said.

Even Hong Kong's normally conservative business community has expressed opposition.

Protesters against the law marched on the streets last month in the biggest rally since 2014's pro-democracy Umbrella Movement demonstrations.

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