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Hong Kong protests escalate on anniversary of handoff to China

Protests in Hong Kong against a criminal extradition bill escalated Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the territory's return to China.

The Associated Press and Reuters reported that protesters stormed the Legislative Council, breaking a floor-to-ceiling window with a cargo cart and large poles.

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Thousands of other residents also marched through the streets of Hong Kong, a semiautonomous region.

Protesters managed to enter the chamber Monday after initially being blocked by armed guards. 

They spray-painted slogans on the wall and over the territory’s emblem, according to the AP.

Protesters also reportedly tore down portraits of legislative leaders.

Demonstrations against a bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to China have lasted for weeks now.

The bill has sparked worries about mainland China’s broadening influence in Hong Kong. When the city was transferred to Chinese rule, a guarantee was made that it would have a legal system independent of Beijing.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the measure last month after hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flooded the city, but that was not enough to quell protests.

Protesters demand the bill be formally withdrawn and that she resign.

She said Monday that the protests have taught her that she needs to listen to the people of Hong Kong more.

“This has made me fully realize that I, as a politician, have to remind myself all the time of the need to grasp public sentiments accurately,” she told a gathering in the city’s convention center, according to the AP.

Lam insisted the government has good intentions, but said “I will learn the lesson and ensure that the government’s future work will be closer and more responsive to the aspirations, sentiments and opinions of the community.”

— Updated 10:29 a.m.