- Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said on Tuesday morning local time that the extradition bill that was being mulled over by the territory’s governing body was “dead.”
- The bill, which would have allowed extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China, sparked massive protests over the past few weeks.
- She did not say whether the government would withdraw the bill completely.
- She added that attempts to amend the bill had been a “total failure” and said the protests were a symptom of “fundamental and deep-seated problems” in Hong Kong.
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Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said on Tuesday morning local time that the extradition bill that was being mulled over by the territory’s governing body was “dead.”
“There are still lingering doubts about the government’s sincerity, or worries whether the government will restart the process in the Legislative Council,” she said at a press conference. “I reiterate here, there is no such plan.
“The bill is dead.”
She did not say whether the government would withdraw the bill completely.
“This has nothing to do with my own pride or arrogance,” she said. “My sincere plea is please give us an opportunity, the time, to take Hong Kong out of the current impasse.”
Lam added that attempts to amend the bill had been a “total failure.”
The bill, which would allow extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China, sparked weeks of massive protests. It was set to be debated June 12, but that was postponed hours later after protesters blocked key roads leading to the government building.
Despite the bill’s temporary withdrawal, protesters have continued to take to the streets for weeks, demanding an independent investigation into allegations of police brutality, the dropping of charges against arrested protesters, and the complete tabling of the bill. Protest groups have also criticised Lam’s handling of the situation and have called for her to step down.
Last week, some protesters stormed the city’s legislature, the Legislative Council, spraying graffiti on the walls and ransacking the chambers. And on Sunday, the police arrested six people after tens of thousands of protesters marched through an area popular with Chinese tourists.
The chief executive addressed the concerns laid out by protesters, calling demands to grant amnesty to protesters “not acceptable.”
“That bluntly goes against the rule of law in Hong Kong,” she said.
Lam added that a police-complaints council would conduct a “fact-finding study” into protests that took place between June 9 and July 2 to address claims of police violence.
She also pledged to listen to the concerns of young people who feel the government is out of touch with their concerns. Several protesters have killed themselves in recent weeks, citing growing despair over the political situation in the city.
“We will listen more extensively to people from different backgrounds who have different ideas so we have a better grasp of public opinion,” she said.
While Hong Kong technically operates under a “one country, two systems” rule with China, the relationship is growing fraught as China asserts more control.
Hong Kong operated under British colonial rule for more than 150 years until its sovereignty was passed on to China in 1997 through an agreement called “the Basic Law.” This allows Hong Kong to maintain its own political, legal, and economic systems separate from China until 2047.
But residents have grown increasingly concerned about China’s encroachment into the semiautonomous territory, with the extradition bill viewed as only part of a much larger issue.
In 2014, large-scale protests that became known as the Umbrella Movement erupted, calling for fair and free elections without Chinese interference. Just under 1,000 people were arrested during the months-long protests, according to Amnesty International, many of whom faced judicial proceedings.
Lam on Tuesday said the protests in 2014, as well as the latest demonstrations, highlighted a further divide within Hong Kong society between the people and its leadership.
“Both exercises have caused a lot of grievances, unhappiness, and tensions in society,” she said. “I believe they reflect not only one incident, but some fundamental and deep-seated problems in Hong Kong.”
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