Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through Hong Kong on Sunday to voice their opposition to legislation that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China where they could face politically charged trials, the AP reports. The massive demonstration took place three days before the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's government plans to bring the highly contentious bill to the full legislature in a bid to win approval by the end of the month. Police estimated the crowd at 240,000, but organizers say more than one million took part. The protest was one of the largest in recent Hong Kong history, underscoring fears over China's broadening footprint in the former British colony.
It appeared to be even bigger than a massive pro-democracy demonstration in 2003 against a proposed national security law, according to AP journalists who covered both events. Late Sunday night, a group of demonstrators broke through barriers at government headquarters but were repeled by police batons and pepper spray. Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, has pushed forward with the legislation despite widespread criticism from human rights and business groups. The amendments have been criticized as eroding Hong Kong's judicial independence by making it easier to send criminal suspects to mainland China, where they could face vague national security charges and unfair trials. (Hong Kongers held a huge vigil to commemorate Tiananmen Square.)