Hong Kong leader to meet protesters' demand to withdraw extradition bill - GulfToday

Hong Kong leader to meet protesters' demand to withdraw extradition bill


Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a news conference in Hong Kong, China. File photo/ Reuters

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will announce on Wednesday the formal withdrawal of an extradition bill that triggered months of unrest and has thrown the Chinese-controlled city into its worst crisis in decades, Cable TV and other media said.

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A government source confirmed the reports to the media.

The protests in the former British colony began in June over the bill, which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China where courts are controlled by the Communist Party, but have since evolved into a push for greater democracy.

School students hold placards which read Five key demands are indispensable in Hong Kong, on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear if the announcement, due later on Wednesday, would help end the unrest.

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

Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index jumped after the report, trading up about 3.3%. The property index also jumped 6 percent.

The withdrawal of the draft legislation was one of the protesters' key demands. Lam has said before that the bill was "dead" but she did not withdraw it.

Hong Kong returned to China under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows it to keep freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, like the freedom to protest and an independent legal system, hence the anger at the extradition bill and perceived creeping influence by Beijing.

Reuters revealed in an exclusive report on Monday that Lam told business leaders last week she had caused "unforgivable havoc" by introducing the bill and that if she had a choice she would apologise and resign, according to a leaked audio recording.

At the closed-door meeting, Lam told the group that she now has "very limited" room to resolve the crisis because the unrest has become a national security and sovereignty issue for China amid rising tensions with the United States.

Lam's remarks are consistent with a Reuters report published on Friday that revealed how leaders in Beijing were effectively calling the shots on handling the crisis.


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