Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam on Wednesday announced that she will formally withdraw the controversial extradition bill which has sparked months of protests in the city.
She made the announcement in a video, saying: “The government will formally withdraw the bill in order to fully allay public concerns. The secretary for security will move a motion when the legislative council resumes.”
Protests in the former British colony began in June over the proposed bill, which would have meant criminals could be extradited to the Chinese mainland.
The announcement comes only a day after Ms. Lam insisted that she never asked the Chinese government to let her resign to end the city’s political crisis despite a leaked voice recording of her saying she would step down if she could.
Ms. Lam has been facing increasing pressure over the draft legislation which many see as an example of an attempt to erode the region’s autonomy.
There have also been often-violent protests over the bill but they have since evolved into calls for more democracy in Hong Kong.
Although Lam had previously said the bill was ‘dead’, she stopped short of fully removing the draft legislation. The withdrawal of the bill is one of the protesters’ five key demands.
Other demands from the protesters are: retracting the word ‘riot’ from the description of rallies, the release of all arrested demonstrators, an independent enquiry into the police’s alleged brutality and the right for the people of Hong Kong to democratically choose their own leaders.
Activist Joshua Wong, who has been a key voice in the protests has responded to Ms. Lam’s announcement, saying it was too little, too late, accusing her of being out of touch.
Hong Kong was returned to the Chinese government by the United Kingdom in 1997 under a ‘one country, two systems’ political arrangement which meant that the region could retain a level of autonomy.