US gravely concerned by proposed Hong Kong amendments

Legislation 'could undermine Hong Kong's autonomy,' says State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus

The U.S. is gravely concerned by proposed amendments that would allow Hong Kong to extradite its residents to face trial in mainland China.

“The continued erosion of the one country, two systems framework puts at risk Hong Kong’s long-established special status in international affairs,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Monday, referring to the post-colonial understanding in which Hong Kong was to retain its own legal framework for at least 50 years.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets Sunday to protest the government’s controversial extradition bill with people carrying banners reading “No Extradition” through packed city streets.

Protesters claim that, if passed, the amendments will put many at risk for extradition to China on politically-motivated charges and have called for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign over the matter.

Ortagus told reporters at the State Department that the mass demonstrations “clearly show the public’s opposition to the proposed amendments”.

“The United States shares the concern of many in Hong Kong that the lack of procedural protections in the proposed amendments could undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and negatively impact the territory’s longstanding protections of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values,” she said.

Lam on Monday refused to drop the legislation. However, she vowed to reach out to critics.

“The government would put on record its commitments to human rights safeguards as part of any future process,” she told reporters, promising to seek additional input from the public over the legislation.

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