In a televised address following months of outrage and widespread protests, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced Wednesday that she has fully withdrawn legislation that would have allowed extradition of Hong Kong residents to the Chinese mainland.
Lam’s decision addresses one of the central demands of demonstrators who have flooded the streets and shut down the Hong Kong International Airport in recent weeks, but it is not clear whether the move will stem the protests.
“Incidents over these past two months have shocked and saddened the Hong Kong people,” Lam said. “We are all very anxious about Hong Kong, our home. We all hope to find a way out of the current impasse and unsettling times.”
Student activist Joshua Wong, a leading voice in the anti-Beijing protest movement, tweeted that Lam’s decision is “too little and too late.”
“Lam’s response comes after seven lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protesters arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station,” said Wong. “The intensified police brutality in the previous weeks have left an irreversible scar to the entire HK society.”
Lam’s decision to withdraw the extradition bill comes after she suspended the legislation in June in the face of massive protests, which saw police deploy tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, “Thousands of workers went on strike this week and university and high-school students boycotted classes and held protests, dashing government hopes that the opposition movement would peter out once school started again.”