Hong Kong leader to meet media after killing extradition bill

A news conference of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam is televised in Hong Kong. (Reuters)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is expected to address the media on Thursday, a day after she withdrew a controversial extradition bill that has triggered mass protests and plunged the Chinese territory into its worst political crisis in decades.

Lam, in a pre-recorded televised message, on Wednesday formally withdrew the bill, acceding to one of pro-democracy protesters’ five demands, although many demonstrators and lawmakers said the move was too little, too late.

The official China Daily said on Thursday that the withdrawal of the bill was an olive branch that leaves demonstrators with no excuse to continue violence.

The announcement came after Reuters reports on Friday and Monday revealed that Beijing had thwarted Lam’s earlier proposals to withdraw the bill and that she had said privately that she would resign if she could, according to an audio recording obtained by Reuters.

The Beijing-backed leader is expected to meet the media before she departs for a trip to China’s Guangxi province on Thursday afternoon, local media reported.

Skirmishes broke out in some districts late on Wednesday after Lam’s announcement, which came after a weekend of some of the most violent protests the city has seen in the past three months.

The Asian financial hub has been roiled by some of the worst violence in decades, with protesters burning barricades and throwing petrol bombs and police retaliating with water cannon, tear gas and batons.

The bill, which would have allowed people in the city to be sent to China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party, was seen as the latest example of what many residents see as ever-tighter control by Beijing, despite the promise of autonomy.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:54 - GMT 06:54
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