AKIPRESS.COM - More than 1 million protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong Sunday, organizers said, to oppose a controversial extradition bill that would enable China to extradite fugitives from the city, CNN reports.
The mass of protesters would be the largest demonstration since the city was handed back to China in 1997. Civil Human Rights Front, the group that organized the protests, said 1.03 million people marched -- a figure that accounts for almost one in seven of the city's 7.48 million-strong population.
Hong Kong Police estimated the number of protesters closer to 240,000.
Critics say the bill will leave anyone on Hong Kong soil vulnerable to being grabbed by the Chinese authorities for political reasons or inadvertent business offenses and undermine the city's semi-autonomous legal system.
The bill has caused political gridlock, outcry among the city's usually pro-conservative business community, and even physical scuffles in the city's legislature, as well as criticism of the Hong Kong government by the United States and European Union.
The government says the bill is designed to plug loopholes in current law by allowing Hong Kong to decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to send fugitives to territories where it doesn't have formal extradition deals -- such as Taiwan, Macau and mainland China. Lawmakers have said the guarantee of a fair trial will not be written into the bill.