Hong Kong leader withdraws extradition bill

Protesters stand near burning items during a protest during a protest in Mong Kok Hong Kong on Friday

Protesters stand near burning items during a protest during a protest in Mong Kok Hong Kong on Friday

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Wednesday withdrew an extradition bill that triggered months of often violent protests so the Chinese-ruled city can move forward, but some said the move was not enough.

A protester in front of a barricade set on fire in the Wan Chai district in Hong Kong on 31 August.

An unprecedented number and diversity of Hong Kong people have protested since June, initially about the extradition bill, but increasingly about the erosion of human rights and the authorities' failure to deliver on guarantees of universal suffrage, among other issues. However, protesters and activists feared the bill would allow Beijing to more easily punish and silence political dissidents in Hong Kong.

She said two senior officials would join an existing inquiry into police conduct during the protests.

Infuriated, protesters have continued to take to the streets and increased their demands to five, including direct democratic elections for Hong Kong's next leader and an independent investigation into police brutality during the protests. More than 1,000 demonstrators rallied in Sydney on Sunday in opposition to the plan, anxious at the prospect that expatriates could be seized by Chinese authorities as they travel through Hong Kong.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip told BBC Chinese the latest move was "a positive step forward".

"The most clear message I have is that we are not backing down", said protester Hermione, a lawyer who asked to only be identified by her first name for security reasons.

Pro-democracy politician Wu Chi-Wai, however, dismissed Carrie Lam's compromises as "fake".

"The police force actually now has absolute power, so they corrupt absolutely", she added.

A man runs away from tear gas as riot police try to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters during a protest at Prince Edward in Hong Kong

Mrs Lam said yesterday that the controversial extradition Bill will be completely withdrawn when the Legislative Council (LegCo) meets again.

Fellow pro-democracy activist Nathan Law told the BBC that their campaign would go on.

But Ms Starry Lee, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, urged people "to take this opportunity and rethink what is good for Hong Kong society". But since then, "with the accumulation of so much resentment, so many accusations and so many disputes", the establishment of an independent inquiry "is 100 percent necessary", Tien said.

Opponents of the bill view this as a breach to the "one country, two systems" principle, which was implemented following the United Kingdom returning its former territory to China in 1997.

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows it to keep freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland.

What is the bill about?

Violent protests in Hong Kong have complicated a three-day trip to China by Chancellor Angela Merkel that she plans to use to press for greater access to markets there for German businesses suffering from a slowdown at home. "That's true for all countries and of course also for China".

Opposition was widespread from the start with groups from all sections of society voicing their criticism. In response, China's foreign ministry accused them of interference in China's internal affairs.

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