The pushback against proposed extradition laws in Hong Kong in a protest that was punctuated by the Christian song "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord" has escalated into mayhem.
According to multiple reports on Monday, Hong Kong police used tear gas to clear a crowd of protesters who assembled outside the city legislature after several hundred others had broken into the building and spray-painted slogans on the walls of the main chamber.
Hundreds of thousands of other protesters marched through the city Monday to demand expanded democracy on the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China.
Hong Kong, which has a population of approximately 7 million people, has been part of China since 1997, yet still operates with its own currency, legal system, and police force. The "one country, two systems" arrangement with mainland China remains fraught with tension, highlighted in recent weeks by protests in which millions have taken to the streets.
The United Kingdom remains in favor of their agreement from 22 years ago. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt reaffirmed Britain’s support for “one country, two systems” on Monday.
As The Christian Post reported in June, approximately 2 million protesters took to the streets to express their opposition over both police brutality and a proposed law that would extradite suspected criminals to mainland China to be prosecuted. Protesters also demanded the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is backed by China.
Demonstrators fear the Chinese government will employ the proposed extradition law to target and effectively silence their critics.
Protesters are continuing to call for Lam to step down for the full withdrawal of the contested extradition legislation, which was suspended amid public outcry that gained significant international media attention.
Thus far, Lam has refused to resign, has condemned the protesters' tactics, and has promised to listen to all voices.
Recent survey data reveals that a majority, 52.9 percent, of Hong Kong residents do not see themselves as Chinese but "Hong Kongers," the largest percentage since such polls began. Only 10.8% of survey respondents identified as Chinese, the lowest percentage since 1997.
Christian groups who participated in the protests made their mark on the demonstration by singing "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord," a catchy Christian song that was penned in 1974 by Linda Stassen-Benjamin.
The song is a popular tune sung around the world and has been translated into many languages.
Many Hong Kongers now say mainland China is working to undermine their rights.
In 2014, A dispute with the mainland government over whether Hong Kong could pick its own leaders yielded what was called the "Umbrella Movement," a series of sit-in protests where over 100,000 demonstrators jammed the financial district of the city for almost three months.