Hong Kong Chief Executive Withdraws Contentious Extradition Bill BBC

The suspended extradition bill will be officially withdrawn as announced by Hong Kong's Chief Executive, Carrie Lam. Even though the controversial bill will be withdrawn, the protests will continue. Protesters want the government to meet all of the five key demands which they have put forward. The time taken to withdraw the bill has aggravated protesters to believe that the withdrawal is "too little, too late."

On Wednesday, Lam addressed the people of Hong Kong to announce that the controversial Extradition Bill will officially be withdrawn. There have been speculations regarding the process which will be involved in the withdrawal. Lam cleared all doubts on Thursday, by announcing that there will be no discussions or votes to decide the fate of the bill. The bill will be withdrawn without any further deliberations.

However, protesters are not viewing the withdrawal as a victory. According to CNN, a large section of the pro-democracy protesters believe that the move is just an attempt by the Beijing government to stall the protests till October 1. China is set to celebrate the symbolic 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Continued protests in Hong Kong would not allow the celebrations to take centre stage.

There were fears that Beijing officials might choose to take a violent path to suppress the protests before October 1. Instead, it seems that the Chinese government gave Lam the green signal to withdraw the bill to try and end the protests.

Hong Kong Extradition Bill Withdrawn
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam insisted her decision to withdraw the bill was hers alone and that she received no direction from the mainland. AFP / Philip FONG

If Lam had withdrawn the bill two months ago, the entire protest would have blown over. By allowing the protests to drag on for nearly three months, Lam has enraged the protesters. Along with the scale of the movement, the demands of the protesters have increased as well. Withdrawal of the bill, an investigation into police violence, cessation of terming the protests as 'riots', amnesty for arrested protesters, and democratic reforms are the five basic demands.

Lam, during her address on Thursday, explained that the step to withdraw the extradition bill was independent of any influence from China. She still stated that China did support the steps taken to withdraw the bill. This statement further confirmed the suspicion that Lam lacked the authority to withdraw the bill.

Lam also tried to justify the time taken by the government to withdraw a bill which had been suspended for months. According to BBC, she said that the withdrawal of the bill should not be seen as an isolated decision. The citizens of Hong Kong have been promised two new members to be appointed to the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) who will investigate police actions. Lam has also promised direct dialogue with the community and discussions with community leaders, academics, and professionals before any major decision is taken by the government.

The four actions promised by Lam only meet two demands of the protesters. Hence, protest leaders like Joshua Wong, have confirmed that the protests will not end until all demands are satisfactorily met. The pro-democracy activists will not be satisfied with scraps tossed at them by the Beijing government through Lam.