Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is set to announce the formal withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill that sparked months of protests, according to local media reports.
The media sources cited on Wednesday the scrapping of the bill – one of the main demands of the pro-democracy movement in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
According to the reports, Lam told a closed-door meeting last week that she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by igniting the political crisis engulfing the city and would quit if she had a choice.
Notably, Hong Kong has been rocked by mass demonstrations since June, in response to the proposed law by Lam’s administration.
Although the Hong Kong government later suspended the legislation amid the mass protests against it, with Lam declaring it “dead”, it has so far refused to officially retract it.
Some other Demands!
Aside from the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the protesters’ demands include an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality and Lam’s resignation, as well as her to stop describing the protests as “rioting” and for her to issue a waiver of charges against those who were arrested.
In June, protester organisers released their four-point list of demands.
- Withdraw the bill entirely
- Retract police characterization of a June 12 protest as “riot.”
- Inquiry into police brutality at a June 12 protest.
- Release those arrested.
Protesters have since added a fifth demand: that Hong Kong holds full democratic elections in the future.
China “said no” to all of the demands, an unnamed source told Reuters, saying: “The situation is far more complicated than most people realize.”
An unnamed senior Hong Kong official told Reuters that Beijing considered the scrapping of the bill and launching an independent inquiry into the protests as the “most feasible politically.”
It ultimately did not decided to pursue that route, and opted for a more hardline approach. It is unclear why Beijing pulled back from its proposed softer approach.