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PHOTOS: Police use water cannons on Hong Kong demonstrators protesting bill that would allow extradition to China for some crimes

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators take to the street of Hong Kong on June 9, 2019, to protest against the extradition bill being put forward by the Hong Kong government, which the people of Hong Kong fear could be used as a political tool by the Beijing central government to arrest and transfer political activists who are against the Chinese government to the mainland. (Chan Long Hei/SOPA Images/Zuma Press/TNS)

Hundreds of demonstrators surrounded government headquarters in Hong Kong Wednesday to protest a highly controversial law that would make it possible for people accused of crimes to be extradited to China to stand trial.

Chanting “Chit Wui!” (“Retract it”) in Cantonese, the protesters overturned barriers and clashed with police. Police used pepper spray and water cannons to break up the crowds.

“This behavior has gone beyond the scope of a peaceful gathering,” law enforcement authorities said in a statement.

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The proposed bill would apply to 37 crimes, but opponents fear it could be used to target political activists.

After being handed over by the British in 1997, Hong Kong was given 50 years to operate its own social, legal, and political systems while being semi-autonomous to China under a “one country, two systems” plan. However, China has been eroding that agreement by enforcing new laws on Hong Kong.

Pro-Beijing lawmakers hold a 43-27 majority in the Hong Kong legislature, so the measure is expected to pass when it comes up for a vote in the coming days.

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© 2019 New York Daily News

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