Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam is set to announce on Wednesday the formal withdrawal of the Extradition Bill, according to reports.
The controversial Extradition Bill has caused months of protests, many being violent. The withdrawal of the bill will meet one of the key demands of protestors, however, it remains unknown whether it will settle the unrest. Protests began months ago, despite the bill being suspended.
In August, riot police clashed with protestors in Hong Kong’s Airport, seeing flights cancelled in and out of the major transport hub.
Last week, Lam reportedly told business leaders that she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by introducing the bill and that if she had a choice she would apologise and resign, according to a leaked audio recording obtained by Reuters.
It had been feared that the Chinese military could intervene in the protests which had shown no signs of letting up.
What is the Extradition Bill?
Hong Kong is part of the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement following the handover from the British government in 1997. The semi-autonomous territory has its own legal system, protection of free speech and other rights through its mini-constitution, The Basic Law, which has contributed to its development of an identity distinct from mainland China.
The extradition bill was prompted by the murder of Poon Hiu-wing who was killed on holiday in Taiwan by her boyfriend Chan Tong-Kai last year. The case exposed a legal loophole as Hong Kong currently lacks an extradition treaty. Whilst the bill aims to resolve this political barrier, fears of extradition to mainland China have been the driving force for protests.