Hong Kong Suspends China Extradition Plan in Stunning Reversal

Hong Kong Suspends China Extradition Plan in Stunning Reversal

June 15, 2019– Mary Greeley News –Hong Kong’s leader suspended efforts to pass a bill allowing extraditions to China, in a dramatic reversal that she said was necessary to restore order in the Asian financial hub and avoid further violence and mass protests.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, announced the legislative “pause” at a news conference Saturday, even as activists asked hundreds of thousands of residents who marched in protest last weekend to return to the streets and demand her resignation. Lam acknowledged that debate had shattered a period of relative calm in the former British colony, including clashes between demonstrators and police Wednesday that left more than 80 people hurt.

“Polarizing views in relation to this bill in society have given rise to violence, very serious confrontations,” Lam told reporters in a briefing that lasted 75 minutes. “That’s why I have come to the view that I have to do something decisively to address the issue of how could I restore as fast as possible the calm in society, and how could I avoid any more law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens being injured.”

Lam stopped short of withdrawing the proposal, which would let Hong Kong reach one-time agreements with mainland China and other jurisdictions, arguing that would contradict her belief that reform was necessary. She said, however, it was unlikely the government would seek its passage before the end of the year.

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Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, the Beijing-based agency that oversees the city, expressed “support, respect and understanding,” the official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday, citing an unnamed spokesman. The statement echoed Lam’s own remarks during her news conference, in which she repeatedly said the decision to suspend consideration was her own.

Lam’s decision “will certainly ease tensions of the general public a lot,” Felix Chung, who represents the textile and garments industries as a pro-establishment member of Hong Kong’s legislature, said in a phone interview. “There’s no time limit,” he said. “She’ll go back through the traditional channels for consultation.”

Chung said the Legislative Council might eventually ask Lam to form a committee to bring the law back for another reading.

The move failed to satisfy organizers of a planned 3 p.m. protest Sunday, who urge the bill’s withdrawal, Lam’s resignation and the release of demonstrators arrested this week. “We are disappointed and angry after this press conference,” Jimmy Sham, convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, said at a news briefing Saturday.

Mary Greeley News
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