Hong Kong leader says China extradition bill ‘is dead’ but stops short of a formal withdrawal

Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 9, 2019.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said that a controversial extradition bill, which has spurred weeks of protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, “is dead” — but stopped short of a formal withdrawal.

On Tuesday, Lam admitted that the legislative process had been a “complete failure” and said there was “no such plan” to restart debates over the bill, which critics fear could be used to target dissidents in Hong Kong for prosecution in China.

“On the 18 of June, I expressed my sincere apology,” she said. “The cause of these grievances are caused by the government. There are still lingering doubts about whether the government will restart the bill. There is no such plan. The bill is dead.”

Protesters are demanding a formal withdrawing the bill. That makes it unlikely that her words will bring a halt to the mass marches that have disrupted the city in recent weeks.

Some of those protests have turned violent. On July 1, hundreds of mostly young demonstrators stormed the city’s legislature, vandalizing much of it and occupying it for several hours before retreating in the face of a police clearance.

Since then, protests have targeted other parts of Hong Kong in an attempt to bring the anti-extradition bill message — and additional demands for Lam’s resignation and greater democracy — to a wider audience, including visitors to the city from mainland China.

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