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100s of protesters surround Hong Kong HQ before bill debate

Protesters sit below a photo of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam with the words "Step down" stuck outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, Wednesday, June 12, 2019. Government officials in Hong Kong are bracing for a showdown as protesters and police continue to face off into the early morning hours outside the semiautonomous Chinese territory's legislature ahead of Wednesday's debate over changes allowing extradition to the Chinese mainland. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

HONG KONG — 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.

The Associated Press