Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) yesterday said that China “understands, respects and supports” her government’s move to formally withdraw an extradition bill, part of measures she hoped would help the territory “move forward” from months of unrest.
In a news conference, Lam was repeatedly questioned on why it took her so long to withdraw the bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China despite increasingly violent protests, but she skirted the questions.
“It is not exactly correct to describe this as a change of mind,” she said.
Full withdrawal of the bill was a decision made by her government with Beijing’s backing, she added.
“Throughout the whole process, the Central People’s Government took the position that they understood why we have to do it. They respect my view and they support me all the way,” Lam said, looking less tense than a televised appearance the day before.
Demonstrators were still calling for all demands to be met, with many placing emphasis on an independent inquiry.
Lam yesterday said that an independent police complaints council was credible enough to address the probe.
The China Daily said that the withdrawal of the bill was an olive branch that leaves demonstrators with no excuse to continue the violence.
Lam was to leave for China’s Guangxi Province yesterday afternoon.
Skirmishes broke out in some districts, including the working class Po Lam late on Wednesday after Lam’s announcement.
Police said a suspected Molotov cocktail was hurled at a luxury property in Kowloon in the early hours yesterday and the suspects fled on a motorbike.
Local newspaper the Apple Daily said the house belonged to Next Media Group founder Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the newspaper’s owner, who was in the property at the time. Lai is an outspoken critic of Beijing.
The Hong Kong Government yesterday took out a full-page advertisement in the Australian Financial Review saying that it is “determined to achieve a peaceful, rational and reasonable resolution” and is resolutely committed to “one country, two systems.”
It ended the ad by saying: “We will no doubt bounce back. We always do.”
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