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Dublin: 17 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says China extradition bill is 'dead'

However, she stopped short of demands to immediately withdraw the bill.

Protesters carry a Hong Kong independence flag during the anti government march on Sunday
Protesters carry a Hong Kong independence flag during the anti government march on Sunday
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

HONG KONG’S PRO-Beijing leader has announced a widely loathed China extradition law that has sparked unprecedented political unrest “is dead”.

However, she stopped short of demands to immediately withdraw the bill.

In her comments, chief executive Carrie Lam admitted her administration’s attempt to introduce the law was a “complete failure”.

But it remains unclear whether her words would ease off the mass protests which have rocked the city in recent weeks.

The international finance hub has been plunged into its worst crisis in recent history following a month of marches and sporadic violent confrontations with police involving a minority of hardcore protesters.  

The rallies were sparked by a now-suspended law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

However, the protests have morphed into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory.

The crisis – which has seen police fire tear gas and rubber bullets and the city’s parliament trashed by protesters – is the most serious challenge to Beijing’s authority since the city was handed back to China in 1997.

Hong Kong Protests Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Source: Vincent Yu via PA Images

Lam’s comments

With calls mounting for her resignation, Lam has made few public appearances in recent weeks. She repeated her stance yesterday, however, that there was no plan to bring back the extradition bill.

She said:

There is no such plan. The bill is dead.

Lam refused to use the word “withdraw”. This has been a demand chanted by the hundreds of thousands of protesters.

They are demanding the flashpoint law is scrapped from the legislative agenda, rather than wait for it to expire in July 2020 when the next parliamentary session ends.

Lam agreed to meet student protesters without preconditions, adding she recognised the swirling economic, political and social challenges facing the city. 

“I come to the conclusion that there are some fundamental and deep-seated problems in Hong Kong society,” she said.

Since the controversy erupted, Lam has been under pressure to appoint an independent judge to head up a public commission of inquiry into the police response to the protests.

Lam rejected those calls again yesterday and backed an existing police complaints body to investigate claims of excessive force.

Includes reporting by © AFP 2019

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