- Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, on Wednesday said her government would withdraw the extradition bill that sparked months of protests.
- Lam said in a video broadcast that her administration would formally withdraw the bill via Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.
- Democracy activists in the city had demanded the removal of the bill, but many remain sceptical that the change will achieve much, calling it “too little and too late.”
- Lam did not order an independent inquiry into allegations of police brutality, another demand from the protesters.
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Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, on Wednesday announced the withdrawal of a contentious extradition bill that has spurred more than three months of violent protest in the city.
Lam said Wednesday in a video broadcast that her administration would formally withdraw the bill via the city’s Legislative Council.
She said she made the decision in response to concern from Hong Kong citizens – a euphemistic reference to the sometimes-violent protests that have roiled the city for months.
Scrapping the bill was a core demand of the protesters, who first took to the streets in anger at the proposed law, which would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China for trial.
She stopped short of setting up an independent inquiry into allegations of police brutality, another demand from the protest movement.
“Violence is not a solution to problems,” she said in her address. “The most pressing task is to stop the violence.”
Her announcement came after a meeting with pro-Beijing allies and cabinet members Wednesday afternoon.
“This gesture to formally withdraw is a bid to cool down the atmosphere,” a source speaking before the announcement told The South China Morning Post.
Lam attempted to appease protesters in July by saying the bill was “dead” and would not become law, but she stopped short of withdrawing it.
She made the comments at a closed-door meeting and said she had wreaked “unforgivable havoc” on the semiautonomous Chinese territory by putting forth the bill.
Stocks surge in anticipation
Hong Kong’s stocks rallied in anticipation of the announcement.
According to Markets Insider, the Hang Seng closed up by 3.8% as luxury and real-estate stocks saw a jump on the news.
The Hang Seng has taken a beating in recent months amid instability in the city, falling by more than 10% since the start of the protests.
Luxury real-estate stocks benefitted from the withdrawal of the bill, as the New World Development Company rose 11.1% and the Wharf Real Estate Investment Company jumped 11.5%.
Some are sceptical that the move will be enough to calm protests
Some have voiced scepticism that the withdrawal of the bill will be enough to calm the protests.
Joshua Wong, the secretary-general of the pro-democracy group Demosisto who is a prominent figure in the protest movement, wrote in a Twitter thread that the anticipated move was “too little and too late now.”
“Carrie Lam’s response comes after 7 lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protesters arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station,” he wrote.
Initial response to Carrie Lam:
1. Too little and too late now — Carrie Lam's response comes after 7 lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protestors arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station.
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 ???? (@joshuawongcf) September 4, 2019
He said that the police response to the protests had left an “irreversible scar” on Hongkonger society and that people did not believe that the move by Lam was “sincere.”
“HK people are well-aware of her notorious track record,” he wrote. “Whenever there are signs of sending a palm branch, they always come with a far tighter grip on exercising civil rights.”
He added: “We urge the world too to alert this tactic and not to be deceived by HK and Beijing Govt. They have conceded nothing in fact, and a full-scale clampdown is on the way.”
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