HONG KONG (AP) — Latest on the protests in Hong Kong over proposed extradition legislation (all times local):
U.S. President Donald Trump is impressed with the number of protesters who took to the streets of Hong Kong, calling it as big a demonstration as he has ever seen but he's avoiding picking a side.
The protesters are against a proposal allowing extradition to the Chinese mainland.
Trump says he understands the reason for the demonstration, adding "I hope it all works out for China and for Hong Kong."
The issue has become a lightning rod for concerns over greater Chinese control and erosion of civil liberties in the semiautonomous territory.
Trump gave his take Wednesday during a meeting at the White House with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam blamed protesters for a politically motivated riot marked by violence and police force that followed a demonstration over a proposal allowing extradition to the Chinese mainland.
Lam noted that some young people in the crowd had expressed their views peacefully, but she condemned protesters who resorted to "dangerous and life-threatening acts."
Lam's comments in a statement Thursday suggested the peaceful protests that flowed through the city's streets on Sunday had devolved into a "blatant, organized riot."
Opponents of the extradition proposal say it could lead to an erosion of civil liberties in the former British colony.
The clash between protesters and police on Wednesday marked a violent new phase in the protest movement sweeping the semiautonomous Chinese territory.
Police fired beanbag rounds and rubber bullets while some protesters threw rocks and metal barricades. At least 72 people were taken to hospitals.
At least 72 people were taken to hospitals in Hong Kong after massive protests over a proposal allowing extradition to the Chinese mainland escalated with violence and police force.
The Hong Kong Hospital Authority said Wednesday that two of the people were in serious condition.
Those injured include 50 males and 22 females.
The authority said 10 remained in treatment, 19 were in stable condition, and 41 have been released.
Citing the public demonstrations and traffic conditions, the seven hospitals urged people to avoid clogging up emergency and ambulance services.
The clash between protesters and police marked a violent new phase in the protest movement sweeping the semiautonomous Chinese territory.
Police fired beanbag rounds and rubber bullets. and protesters threw rocks and metal barricades.
Amnesty International has condemned what it called excessive force by Hong Kong police against largely peaceful protesters demonstrating against a proposed extradition bill, saying it violates international law and is likely to lead to worsening violence.
Amnesty International Hong Kong director Man-Kei Tam said tear gas and rubber bullets should never be used to disperse peaceful protesters because they are "notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate, and can result in serious injury and even death."
The group warned that the police action was "fueling tensions and is likely to contribute to worsening violence, rather than end it."
A day of sit-ins and clashes between protesters and police on Wednesday marked a major escalation in the semi-autonomous city's biggest political crisis in years, fueled by concerns over growing Chinese control and erosion of civil liberties.
The German government says it is examining whether its existing extradition agreement with Hong Kong would be affected if a hotly contested extradition bill is approved in the territory.
The proposed bill would allow suspects in Hong Kong to be sent for trial in mainland China. It has prompted large demonstrations amid concerns over greater Chinese control and erosion of civil liberties in the semi-autonomous territory.
German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr said Wednesday that Berlin and its European Union partners have expressed their concern to Hong Kong authorities. She said "we are also examining whether the existing bilateral extradition agreement between Germany and Hong Kong could continue to be implemented in its current form if the planned extradition bill is approved."
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said it was a good sign that the majority of protesters have been peaceful "and we appeal to all concerned to ensure that things remain just as peaceful in Hong Kong."
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has spoken tearfully about the sacrifices she has made for the city in response to questions about whether she is "selling out" the territory by trying to push through a controversial extradition bill.
But in an interview with news channel TVB on Wednesday, Lam dodged questions about whether she would withdraw the bill in the face of chaotic and sometimes violent demonstrations against it by tens of thousands of angry residents.
Critics say the bill, which would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China, could lead to an erosion of civil liberties in the semi-autonomous territory.
"It's time to let lawmakers with different opinions express their views under the legislative process," Lam said. "On whether to retract or push it through ... our consideration is this. There is no doubt this issue is controversial. Explanation and dialogue are useful but perhaps that has not entirely dispelled worries."
Speaking about her commitment to her job, her voice cracked as she said: "They said I'm selling out Hong Kong. How could I do that? I grew up here with everyone else in the city."
Lam added that she has never "felt guilty" over the issue and insisted she believed she was doing the right thing. She said she felt "worried and sad" about young protesters — many of them teenagers — on the streets, but said that as a parent to two sons, she believed it would be wrong to cave into young people's "willful behavior."
Hong Kong's legal community is urging the city's leader to withdraw a controversial bill that would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
The Hong Kong Bar Association also said Wednesday it wants to know what the government's view is on principles underpinning the "surrender of fugitives" to the mainland following a New Zealand court case that stopped a man accused of killing a woman in Shanghai from being sent to China.
New Zealand doesn't have a formal extradition agreement with China and the case is considered an important precedent for Hong Kong, with which it shares a common law system from its roots as a British colony.
The association urged the government to "withdraw the bill for a full and proper consultation."
In a letter addressed to Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, Chairman Philip Dykes said the group wants to know whether the government took into account the human rights situation in mainland China before seeking assurances from Beijing on the matter.
A day of sit-ins and clashes between protesters and police on Wednesday marked a major escalation in the semi-autonomous city's biggest political crisis in years.
Britain's foreign secretary has appealed for calm in Hong Kong and urged authorities there to listen to the concerns of protesters.
Jeremy Hunt says large protests Wednesday and in recent days show "a clear sign of significant public concern" about a contentious extradition bill, which has become a lightning rod for worries about the erosion of civil liberties in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.
Hunt urged the Hong Kong government "to pause and reflect on these controversial measures."
He says upholding the principle of "one country, two systems," as set out in the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration under which Britain returned Hong Kong to China, "is vital to Hong Kong's future success."
The head of Hong Kong's Legislative Council has announced that a meeting delayed by protests against proposed extradition legislation has been postponed until further notice.
Thousands of protesters blocked entry to Hong Kong's government headquarters on Wednesday, delaying a hearing on a proposed extradition bill that has become a lightning rod for concerns over greater Chinese control and erosion of civil liberties in the territory.
A notice posted on the Hong Kong government's website Wednesday evening said an announcement would be made about when the session would be convened "once the president determines the time of the meeting."
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Tourism Board said it has canceled a Dragon Boat Carnival planned for the nearby Central Harbourfront on Friday through Sunday.
It said the decision was made after "careful consideration" of the situation in the area.
China has repeated its support for Hong Kong's proposed extradition legislation, which has caused massive protests in the semiautonomous territory.
Appearing to reference the unrest, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says "any act that undermines Hong Kong's prosperity and stability is opposed by mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong."
He also denied at his regular briefing Wednesday that China has been interfering in the city's affairs in a way that violates agreements made when Hong Kong was handed back to China from British control.
He said: "Hong Kong people's rights and freedoms have been fully guaranteed in accordance with law."
The protests have forced the delay of legislative debate over the bill, which would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be sent for trial in mainland China.
Hong Kong's police commissioner says the scene around the city's government headquarters was "chaotic" and is appealing for protesters to leave the area.
Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung told reporters Wednesday that officers used batons, pepper spray, beanbag rounds, rubber bullets, water hoses and tear gas against the demonstrators.
He said police took action after a large group of masked protesters charged onto the roads surrounding the complex in Hong Kong's Admiralty district and started throwing objects including metal barriers at officers. He called the situation a riot.
Lo said: "This is very dangerous action that could kill someone."
He said several people including some officers had been injured.
Thousands of protesters have descended on the area to try to prevent Hong Kong's Beijing-backed government from pushing through deeply unpopular extradition bill.
Hong Kong police have been searching some protesters and their bags as the leave the scene of massive protests against widely unpopular extradition legislation.
Scores of protesters were leaving the area Wednesday, some with their hands held high, after police shot tear gas around the besieged city government headquarters near the waterfront.
Protesters threw rocks, bottles, metal barricades and other projectiles at police.
Livestreamed reports from local television stations showed protesters who remained at the scene putting plastic wrap around their arms, wetting face masks and tightening goggles they were using to protect themselves from tear gas and pepper spray.
The protesters are opposed to a bill that has become a lightning rod for concerns over greater Chinese control and erosion of civil liberties in the semiautonomous territory.
Police equipped with riot shields have pushed back against protesters attempting to storm past barricades to get into Hong Kong's government headquarters.
Protesters scattered from some areas, using umbrellas to fend off pepper spray, tear gas and compressed water deployed by police trying to protect the besieged government building.
Livestreamed reports from local television stations showed demonstrators overturning metal canopies and throwing objects as police cleared some streets that had been jammed with thousands of people hours before.
Some police carried compressed air-powered rifles that appeared to be equipped to fire non-lethal projectiles. It was unclear if they were shooting them.
Hong Kong police have used tear gas, pepper spray and high-pressure water hoses against protesters who have laid siege to government buildings to oppose a contentious extradition bill.
Thousands of protesters blocked entry to Hong Kong's government headquarters Wednesday, delaying a legislative session on a proposed extradition bill that has become a lightning rod for concerns over greater Chinese control and erosion of civil liberties in the territory.
The protesters overflowed onto a major downtown road as they overturned barriers and tussled with police outside the building that also houses the chambers where the legislature was to discuss the bill, which would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be sent for trial in mainland China.
A statement from a Hong Kong administrator earlier said, "I would also like to ask the people in this gathering to stay calm and leave the scene as soon as possible and not to commit any crime."
Cheung gave no indication of when the delayed legislative debate would begin.
Hong Kong officials are calling on protesters to leave the area where huge crowds are blocking streets to government headquarters and have delayed debate over a highly contentious extradition bill.
The second reading of the bill that would allow suspects to face trials in mainland China was due Wednesday. Protesters and police clashed intermittently, with protesters hurling traffic cones and other objects and police responding with pepper spray.
In a statement read to reporters, Chief Secretary for Administration Mathew Cheung said, "The Hong Kong government calls on people who are blocking roads to ... go back to the pavement as soon as possible."
He added, "I would also like to ask the people in this gathering to stay calm and leave the scene as soon as possible and not to commit any crime."
Cheung gave no indication of when the legislative debate would begin.
Dozens of people are protesting outside the Hong Kong Consulate in Taiwan to denounce proposed amendments to Hong Kong's extradition laws.
Hong Kong students sitting outside the consulate in Taipei held posters reading "No extradition to China" and chanting "Hong Kong government, Shame on you."
Ho Wing Tung, a Hong Kong student in Taiwan, said the rule of law won't exist if the legislation passes and she is afraid the "one country, two systems" principle would become a joke.
Dissident Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee, who left Hong Kong for Taiwan over extradition fears, said the extradition law amendments go against human rights.
In Hong Kong, thousands of protesters were blocking entry to Hong Kong's government headquarters. A legislative session to debate the bill has been delayed.
The secretariat of Hong Kong's Legislative Council says it has delayed the start of a legislative session on a contentious extradition bill as protesters massed outside to block entry to the chamber and government headquarters.
A statement from the government's press service said the session scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday would be "changed to a later time to be determined" by the secretariat. Council members would be notified of the time of the meeting later, the statement said.
An overwhelmingly young crowd of demonstrators filled roads in the Wan Chai district to block access to the government offices. Many took the day off from work and classes to press their case that the amendments to the extradition bill would erode the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's civil liberties.
Hundreds of protesters have blocked access to Hong Kong's legislature and government headquarters in a bid to block debate on a highly controversial extradition bill that would allow accused people to be sent to China for trial.
The overwhelmingly young crowd of demonstrators filled roads in the Wan Chai district. Many had taken the day off from work and classes Wednesday to press their case that the amendments to the extradition bill would erode the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's civil liberties.
Under its "one country, two systems" framework, Hong Kong was guaranteed its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years following its handover from British rule in 1997. However, China's ruling Communist Party has been seen as increasingly reneging on that agreement by forcing through unpopular legal changes.
Hundreds of protesters have surrounded government headquarters in Hong Kong as the territory's legislature prepare to open discussion on a highly controversial extradition law that would allow residents accused of wrongdoing to be sent to China for trial.
The overwhelmingly young crowd of demonstrators overturned barriers and tussled with police Wednesday morning as they sought to enter government headquarters and offices of the Legislative Council.
Under its "one country, two systems" framework, Hong Kong was guaranteed the right to retain its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years following its handover from British rule in 1997. However, China's ruling Communist Party has been seen as increasingly reneging on that agreement by forcing through unpopular legal changes.
A vote on the amended laws is scheduled for June 20.