Hong Kong leader withdraws controversial extradition bill

Hong-Kong on map
Hong-Kong on map

Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, said on Wednesday that the detested extradition bill that sparked months of protests across the city would be withdrawn.

Mrs Lam’s televised announcement appeared aimed at mitigating the worst political crisis Hong Kong has faced since the British returned the city-state to Chinese control in 1997.

“Incidents over these past two months have shocked and saddened Hong Kong people,” Ms Lam said in a broadcast shortly before 6 p.m. in Hong Kong. “We are all very anxious about Hong Kong, our home. We all hope to find a way out of the current impasse and unsettling times.”

Her decision was met with scepticism from protesters, who said they would not back down until all their demands have been met, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

The protesters, chanting “Five key demands, not one less,” demanded that an independent probe into the use of force by police, amnesty for arrested protesters, an end to categorising the protests as riots and the implementation of universal suffrage.

They dismissed the withdrawal of the bill as insufficient and no progress would be achieved in the months of standoff without the remaining four.

The protests began in early June after Ms Lam introduced a bill that will send Hong Kong citizens to China to face trial on some criminal charges. The citizens immediately opposed the bill, saying they would not submit themselves to the opaque judicial system in China.

As the protests raged, with transport and other infrastructure being affected, speculations began that China may send police and soldiers from the mainland to contain the protesters. Last month, a video showing movement of military tanks towards Hong Kong from China was circulated by a Chinese propaganda website.

Although China has called the protesters terrorists and urged Hong Kong authorities to use necessary force to quell the demonstrations, the country has not intervened militarily in the crisis.

World leaders have continued to express worry about the situation, urging all parties to dialogue and prevent escalation.

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