HONG KONG -- Hundreds of protesters pounded the streets of Hong Kong on Wednesday to visit the consulates of Group of 20 members, calling on foreign governments to raise the city's contentious extradition bill with China at this week's summit in Osaka.
The protesters, mostly young, started by handing a letter to representatives of the U.S. government. They then moved on to deliver petitions at 18 more consulates in the city.
The organizers, who posted their letter to the U.S. on social media, urged President Donald Trump to make an "intervention" with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the meeting being held Friday and Saturday. They are seeking a complete retraction of the proposed bill that would allow extraditions of people in Hong Kong to mainland China.
They pleaded in the letter for Trump to "stand behind Hong Kong's autonomy."
"President Trump has publicized his intention to bring up Hong Kong's situation at the G-20 summit and we are truly grateful for his attention," the letter said. "Your proactiveness in the discussion will drive other countries to do the same in support of human rights and freedom."
Organizers of Wednesday's petition march did not visit China's liaison office in Hong Kong.
"We have already expressed our strong demands to the Chinese government and the Hong Kong government" but were ignored, one of the organizers, Ventus Lau, told the Nikkei Asian Review. "That's why we need to find some international help."
At the Consulate General of Canada, Consul for political, economic and public affairs Derry McDonell received the petition on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "We'll send it back to Ottawa for the relevant offices to consider," McDonell told Nikkei.
Beijing said earlier this week that it will not allow the G-20 to discuss political events in Hong Kong. "Hong Kong matters are purely an internal affair for China," a Chinese government official said.
On Wednesday night, thousands of people gathered near the waterfront in the Central business district for a rally ahead of the G-20 summit.
Speakers led the protesters in chants of "Free Hong Kong!" and "Democracy now!" and reminded the crowd that the city had been spared the high tariffs slapped on China by the U.S. in the countries' trade war because of the territory's "special status" granted by Washington.
"Hong Kong people, don't underestimate your capabilities," Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a prominent activist, told the cheering crowd.
Opponents of the legislation fear the Chinese Communist Party could use the proposed law to request the transfer of anyone it views as a threat to its authority. Several massive demonstrations and rallies in Hong Kong this month have brought out as many as 2 million people to protest against the bill.
While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, one protest outside government headquarters on June 12 devolved into violent clashes between protesters and police, who used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse crowds.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended legislative debate of the bill on June 15 but has not formally withdrawn it, which protesters are demanding.
A survey this week showed that Lam's approval rating fell to a negative 44 percentage points, down from a negative 24 earlier this month.
The Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong said Lam's rating is at a "historical low" compared with all previous chief executives, with just 23% of the public supporting her and 67% expressing a vote of no confidence.