Steps by the Chinese and Hong Kong governments in recent years have raised fears among residents that the freedoms they enjoy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory are being eroded. Following a day of sit-ins, tear gas and clashes with police, Hong Kong students and civil rights activists vowed to keep protesting a proposed extradition bill that has become a lightning rod for concerns over greater Chinese control over the former British colony.
The violence marked a major escalation of the biggest political crisis in years for the territory and forced the delay of legislative debate on the contentious bill. The demonstrations pose a challenge to Chinese President Xi JInping, who has said he would not tolerate Hong Kong being used as a base to question the ruling Communist Party’s authority. Hong Kong was handed back from British to Chinese rule in 1997 with constitutional guarantees it would continue to enjoy rights and freedoms not granted in mainland China, including an independent legal system.