Hong Kong Government Formally Withdraws Extradition Bill That Ignited Protests

Anti-government protesters gather at the start of a protest march in Hong Kong’s tourism district of Tsim Sha Tsui, China, October 20, 2019. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)

Hong Kong’s government on Wednesday formally pulled the extradition bill that ignited months of violent pro-democracy protests.

“I formally announce the withdrawal of the bill,” Secretary for Security John Lee announced to the Chinese territory’s legislature, citing “conflicts in society” as his justification.

Hong Kong has been roiled by protests throughout the summer, originally sparked by outrage over the extradition law, which Hong Kong residents say would allow Chinese authorities to effectively “kidnap” them with little evidence of criminality.

However, the concern over the law has ballooned into fear that China plans to throw out its “One Country, Two Systems” policy regarding Hong Kong — and the withdrawal of the bill is unlikely to curb the protests.

China has vowed a “severe” response to the protests and has accused demonstrators of terrorism.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced last month that the extradition bill would be withdrawn. The protesters have since made several other broader demands including enhanced democracy for Hong Kong, an independent investigation into police conduct, and amnesty for protesters who have been arrested.

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