- Hong Kong has been engulfed in protests the past week over a proposed law that would allow extradition of residents to mainland China.
- The bill prompted widespread anger and stoked fears that the new rules could be exploited to quash dissidents and political dissent.
- Demonstrations have at times blanketed the Asian financial center in a “sea of black,” and protesters are calling for government leaders to resign.
- The extradition plan was tabled Saturday, and Chief Executive Carrie Lam issued a mea culpa Sunday admitting “deficiencies” in the government’s process.
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After drawing fierce backlash and some of the largest protests in Hong Kong’s history, extradition plans between the territory and China have been put on ice and chief executive Carrie Lam has issued a mea culpa as leaders try to quell a growing political crisis.
Widescale demonstrations that at times have blanketed the Asian financial center in a “sea of black” broke out last Sunday over a proposed law that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China, stoking fears that the new rules could be exploited to quash dissidents and political dissent.
Protests continued throughout the week, and hundreds of thousands of black-clad residents continued to swarm the streets this Sunday to call for government leaders to step down, even after the bill was indefinitely tabled on Saturday.
Amid the intense blowback in the territory, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 after more than 150 years under British authority, Lam issued a statement Sunday admitting “deficiencies” in the government’s process and saying there was no timetable for revisiting the policy.
“The Chief Executive admitted that the deficiencies in the Government’s work had led to substantial controversies and disputes in society, causing disappointment and grief among the people,” the statement read. “The Chief Executive apologised to the people of Hong Kong for this and pledged to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public.”
— Richard Pyne (@richardjpyne) June 16, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that President Donald Trump would discuss the protests with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit later this month, according to the AFP.
Protests erupted in Hong Kong a week ago amid efforts to pass an extradition bill allowing some suspects to be sent to China to stand trial.
The proposed law was deeply unpopular, as many believe it could be wielded as a tool to weed out and silence political dissidents.
Hundreds of thousands of residents of the territory swarmed the streets to express their opposition to the bill.
The marchers are demanding that Chief Executive Carrie Lam resign.
Stand-offs between demonstrators and authorities have gotten ugly at times, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds.
More than 70 people have been injured.
One protestor died after falling from scaffolding in an attempt to hang a banner. That prompted mourners to lay out flowers and other makeshift memorials.
Lam said at a press conference Saturday that she was suspending the extradition bill.
That did little to subdue the protests.
Black-clad demonstrators continued to hit the streets in full force on Sunday to renew calls for government leaders to step down.
That created a “sea of black” that has cloaked the streets of the Asian financial hub.
Lam on Sunday issue an apology, saying “deficiencies in the Government’s work had led to substantial controversies and disputes in society, causing disappointment and grief among the people.”
Demonstrations nonetheless continued to mob the streets Sunday well into the evening.
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