Hong Kong leader withdraws loathed extradition bill

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam

Hong Kong's embattled chief executive Carrie Lam is officially withdrawing an extradition bill with China after more than three months of sometimes violent protest.

It was a huge U-turn from Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam; the Beijing-appointed leader of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory had previously said there was no room for compromise.

The legislation, if passed, would have allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China to face trial there, and this led to massive protests.

As Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities refused in the ensuing months to budge on any of the protesters' demands, the protests have morphed into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms in the Special Administrative Region. She later said it was effectively dead.

More than 1,000 people have been arrested and several others injured during the standoff between protesters and the government.

Hong Kong's business community widely disliked the extradition proposal and looked on aghast as the usually stable city became mired in increasingly violent street battles between riot police and a minority of hardcore protesters.

The government has yet to respond to the South China Morning Post report, but scrapping the controversial bill has been one of the main demands of the pro-democracy protesters. The action meets only one of five main demands, which also include calls for an independent commission of inquiry into police violence, an amnesty for those who have been arrested and universal suffrage.

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Videos showing the man being apprehended by the police in the station have been widely shared on social media with protest groups and activists saying it is evidence of the police brutality they say is widespread and needs to be investigated. Trust in the Hong Kong government, meanwhile, dropped to 27 percent.

In the audio recording, she said she wanted to quit and take responsibility for triggering the unrest with the extradition plans, but that she was hamstrung by Beijing.

Hong Kong acts as a conduit for goods to China, both for raw materials as well as finished goods, and the whole chain will suffer if the protests continue, he said.

She is expected to announce the bill's complete withdrawal after a meeting with pro-Beijing allies and cabinet members on Wednesday afternoon. The current movement, which began as a protest against a bill to extradite criminals to China, has now lasted more than 85 days.

In a series of tweets he said all the protesters' demands had to be met.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo mocked Lam's bid to seek dialogue to address public grievances. Many in Hong Kong see it as an example of the city's eroding autonomy since the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997. Over the past few years, China has rounded up more than 1 million of its own people who belonged to the mostly-Muslim Uighur minority and placed them in re-education camps.

Lam said the persistent violence is damaging the rule of law and that challenges to the "one country, two systems" framework under which the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997 had put Hong Kong in a "highly vulnerable and unsafe situation".

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