Hong Kong’s embattled pro-Beijing leader on Tuesday said a China extradition bill that sparked unprecedented political unrest “is dead” – but protesters immediately dismissed her comments, threatening more mass rallies.
The international finance hub has been plunged into its worst crisis in recent history by a month of marches and sporadic violent confrontations between police and pockets of hardcore protesters.
The rallies were sparked by a draft law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, but they have morphed into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory.
In a city unaccustomed to such upheaval, police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets while the parliament has been trashed by protesters – as Beijing’s authority faces its most serious challenge since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997.
On Tuesday the city’s chief executive Carrie Lam admitted her administration’s attempt to introduce the bill was a “complete failure”, saying that her government would not seek to reactivate it in parliament.
“There is no such plan. The bill is dead,” Lam said.