New Delhi: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is reportedly set to announce on Wednesday the withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill, under which critics fear political dissidents could be sent to mainland China.
The move would come after months of protests that began in early June, and which saw the city being brought to a standstill with protesters camping at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) which in turn led to the cancellation of about 200 flights.
The protests had turned ugly when at least 40 people were arrested for illegal assembly, destroying property and obstruction of justice inside the Prince Edward metro station in Hong Kong.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, in the latest developments, Lam will meet with pro-Beijing lawmakers, Hong Kong deputies to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference at government house. It also cited pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip as saying that the bill’s withdrawal is “likely”, though she has not been told what the meeting will be about.
The bill had drawn criticism when it was unveiled in April, with those opposing it saying it might be used to intimidate or silence critics of Beijing or undermine Hong Kong’s legal freedoms.
Lam had initially suspended the bill in June, terming it dead, but she never withdrew it, which in turn led to the peaceful protests morphing into violent displays of dissent.
Now, along with complete withdrawal of the bill, demonstrators also want a fully independent probe into alleged police brutality, amnesty for those arrested and greater political reforms. They also demand that officials stop describing the protests as riots.