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Hong Kong protests: Almost two million people call for city’s leader to step down

A sea of people have taken to the streets in Hong Kong to protest against a proposed extradition law and demand that Chief Executive Carrie Lam steps down.

Organisers of the protest say almost two million people turned out to the Sunday demonstration, which was the third mass protest against the controversial bill in a week.

Hong Kong police estimate the number of protesters to be far lower, saying that 338,000 people followed the protest’s original route.

Ben Bland, Hong Kong analyst at the Lowy Institute, said the people of Hong Kong are worried that the legal system is under threat.

“Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous region within China … that’s why so many people came out onto the streets to defend this separate system, which they feel is now under threat because of growing encroachment from Beijing,” he said.

Mr Bland said tension between Hong Kong’s common law system, which was inherited from British colonisation, and China’s communist system, is at the root of the protests.

The common law system is “under pressure because the Communist party views the justice system differently, and uses it in a very different way, as a tool of political repression and control”, he said.

“Hong Kong is kind of caught between these two systems, and that’s exactly why we’ve had all these people out on the streets trying to push Hong Kong in a more democratic direction, or at least slow the pace at which they lose their freedoms.”

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has suspended the extradition bill in response to the protests, but has not withdrawn the bill.

She has apologised for the government’s handling of the issue.

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