Hong Kong scraps law that sparked protests
Hong Kong’s legislature on Wednesday formally withdrew planned legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, but the move was unlikely to end months of unrest as it met just one of five demands of pro-democracy demonstrators.
The rallying cry of the protesters, who have trashed public buildings in the Chinese-ruled city, set street fires and pelted police with petrol bombs, has been “five demands, not one less”, meaning the withdrawal of the bill makes no difference.
Hundreds of protesters gathered peacefully outside the British Consulate, waving British flags, chanting “stand with Hong Kong” and calling for support for a British parliamentary debate on the citizenship status of Hong Kong people scheduled for Thursday.
Britain has vowed support for Hong Kong, a former British colony handed back to China in 1997. But, given its plan to leave the EU, Britain is also hoping for trading and investment opportunities with China.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had said many times the extradition bill was as good as dead and that other demands, including universal suffrage and an amnesty for all those charged with rioting, were beyond her control. Protesters are also calling for her to stand down and for an independent inquiry into perceived police brutality during a long hot summer of running battles on the streets.
“There aren’t any big differences between suspension and withdrawal (of the extradition bill)... It’s too little, too late,” said 27-year-old protester Connie, hours before the bill was pulled. “There are still other demands the government needs to meet, especially the problem of police brutality.”
Police have responded to protester violence with water cannon, tear gas, rubber bullets and several live rounds. Demonstrators are angry at what they see as Beijing encroaching on Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” formula.