Chaos as Hong Kong's Carrie Lam tries to give 'state of the union'


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Media captionWatch the moment chaos erupts in Hong Kong parliament

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam was forced to suspend her annual address after being heckled in the city’s parliament.

Opposition lawmakers disrupted the session from the start by shouting and projecting slogans.

After a first interruption, the session resumed only to be interrupted again. It was then suspended, with the address delivered by pre-recorded video.

The suspension means the extradition bill – which sparked months of protests – was unable to be withdrawn formally.

Hong Kong has experienced months of protests since the extradition bill was introduced in April.

The Legislative Council (Legco) resumed on Wednesday for the first time since it was stormed by protesters in July.

Now the withdrawal of the bill will only be possible once Legco resumes.

The bill was suspended in July – but the move failed to quell protests in the city.

On Wednesday, as the city’s chief executive was about to begin her speech, opposition lawmakers projected the slogan “Five demands – not one less” on the wall behind her.

Since the protests began in June, they have widened from rallies against the extradition bill to five key demands – including universal suffrage.

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Security tried to control members of the press and protesting pro-democracy lawmakers after Carrie Lam had to leave the chamber for a second time

Opposition lawmaker Tanya Chan said Ms Lam was to blame for the city’s troubles.

“Both her hands are soaked with blood,” she said. “We hope Carrie Lam withdraws and quits. She has no governance ability. She is not suitable to be chief executive.”

It was the first time a Hong Kong chief executive had been unable to deliver a policy address in the chamber.

Pro-establishment lawmakers condemned the interruption of the session – saying the address was important for the city’s economic future.

Ms Lam’s interrupted speech came just hours after US lawmakers supported Hong Kong’s protesters by passing a bill aimed at upholding human rights in the city.

After the assembly was suspended a second time, the speech was made available as a video on the Legco website – instead of live from the parliament chamber.

In the address, she stressed her commitment to “one country, two systems” – introduced after British rule ended – and that Hong Kong independence was not tolerable.

She then announced several housing and infrastructure policies, saying housing was the most urgent issue the city faces.

What are the Hong Kong protests about?

Hong Kong is part of China but, as a former British colony, has some autonomy and people have more rights.

The protests started in June against plans to allow extradition to the mainland – which many feared would undermine the city’s freedoms and judicial independence.

The bill was withdrawn in September but demonstrations continued. Demands have widened to include genuine universal suffrage and an inquiry into police behaviour.

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Protests began as soon as Carrie Lam arrived

Protests have taken place every weekend over the past month and in every district, causing widespread disruption.

Clashes between police and activists have become increasingly violent, with police firing live bullets and protesters attacking officers and throwing petrol bombs.

Ms Lam’s address was scheduled just days after Chinese President Xi Jinping said any attempt to divide China would end in “bodies smashed and bones ground to powder”.

While he did not mention any particular region, his comment was seen as a warning to Hong Kong’s protesters.

How did the protests escalate?

In July, hundreds of protesters stormed Legco, spraying graffiti and defacing symbols of the Hong Kong law-making body.

In August, one protester was injured in the eye, leading to demonstrators wearing red-coloured eye patches to show their solidarity.

Protests at Hong Kong international airport then led to hundreds of flights being cancelled.

When the bill was finally withdrawn in September, most protesters said it was “too little, too late”.

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Media captionThe Christian volunteers putting themselves between protesters and police

On 1 October, while China was celebrating 70 years of Communist Party rule, Hong Kong experienced what authorities said was one of its most “violent and chaotic days”.

An 18-year-old was shot in the chest with a live bullet, one of six rounds were fired by police. Protesters also fought officers with poles, petrol bombs and other projectiles.

The government then banned protesters wearing face masks, invoking powers dating back to colonial rule. Many activists continue to defy the ban.

Last Sunday, peaceful rallies again descended into clashes with railway stations and shops deemed to be pro-Beijing targeted.

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