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Hong Kong commerce chamber joins protesters on bill withdrawal
[HONG KONG] The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce joined the city's protesters in calling for a formal withdrawal of the extradition bill and the setup of a commission of inquiry to examine the facts surrounding the ongoing tensions and their escalation.
"Protests are becoming increasingly confrontational while factions are being created that pit citizen against citizen," the chamber, which says it represents businesses employing a third of the local workforce, said in a statement on its website on Monday after a night of protests and clashes. "The situation is also raising concerns in Hong Kong and internationally about our commitment to the basic law and the rule of law."
While Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam had said the bill that would allow extraditions to China was "dead," she stopped short of meeting protesters' demand for the withdrawal of the legislation. That brought the city into the seventh-straight weekend of protests. Police fired tear gas to clear crowds on Hong Kong island on Sunday night and violence erupted in a separate incident at Yuen Long station in the city's north.
Efforts to resolve the ongoing concerns over the extradition bill have stagnated and given rise to frustrations that public demands are being ignored, the chamber said, calling for a swift resolution to the impasse.
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1861, has representatives on over 40 government and non-government advisory boards, as well as the Executive Council and the Legislative Council, according to its website. Victor Li, chairman of CK Asset Holdings and Cathay Pacific Airways chairman John Slosar are among the vice chairmen of its general committee, its website shows.
A commission of inquiry would provide an impartial platform for all allegations and grievances to be examined, the chamber said. It also urged for the accountability system must be applied to "those officials who are responsible for the poor manner in how the bill was handled," without specifying any names.