Published: Wed, September 04, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Hong Kong leader to announce withdrawal of extradition bill

Hong Kong leader to announce withdrawal of extradition bill

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's embattled chief executive, will formally withdraw the controversial extradition bill that sparked months of tense protests that played out on an worldwide stage.

Demonstrators are demanding a complete withdrawal of the bill, a fully independent probe into police behaviour, amnesty for those arrested, universal suffrage and a halt to the characterisation of protests as "riots".

"It is too little, too late".

The bill, which sparked months of violent protests, would have allowed individuals from Hong Kong accused of having committed crimes in mainland China to be extradited and tried there.

Ms Lam has said before that the bill was "dead" but she did not withdraw it.

Lam has faced growing pressure as the protests have escalated, with increasingly violent clashes between police and demonstrators.

However, the protests have continued, with activists facing off with the police on the streets.

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More than a thousand protesters have been arrested as Beijing officials accuse the protesters of "terrorism" and claim without evidence that the United States is behind the unrest. Beijing is planning a military parade and national celebration on that day, which Chinese leader Xi Jinping is loath to see marred by political unrest.

The chief executive's office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

"The government will formally withdraw the Bill in order to fully allay public concerns", she said in a pre-recorded address in Cantonese and English that was carried by all major broadcasters in Hong Kong.

Online, many protesters shared an image from "Winter on Fire", a documentary about the Ukrainian protests of 2013-2014 that has been popular in Hong Kong recently, showing a man speaking with Chinese captions: "If we accepted the government's conditions, our friends who've already died would not forgive us".

"After more than two months of social unrest, it's obvious to many that the discontentment extends far beyond the (extradition) Bill", Mrs Lam added.

The withdrawal of the draft legislation was one of the protesters' key demands. "They have conceded nothing in fact, and a full-scale clampdown is on the way".

The turmoil that followed Lam's attempt to introduce the ill-fated bill - including mass marches that drew over 1 million people and protests that shut the city's busy airport - have turned into the biggest crisis for Beijing's rule over the former British colony since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

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