"I see the discontent among citizens and that reflects a deep problem in our society. The government will not ignore the problem but face it"
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday that the controversial fugitive bill is "dead", and promised to rebuild trust between the government and citizens. The move follows a wave of anti-China protests in opposition to a law that would have seen criminals extradited to China if their offense had been committed in the mainland.
"I see the discontent among citizens and that reflects a deep problem in our society. The government will not ignore the problem but face it...We hope to put aside disputes and together find a way out for Hong Kong." said Lam Tuesday, as she announced that her government will not embark on new attempts to push through the "fugitive bill", a contested law that triggered a large opposition protest movement against the Chinese backed Hong Kong authorities.
The law was agreed on initially by China and Hong Kong after a high profile case hit the headlines. A man from Hong Kong had killed his pregnant partner whilst in China, however, he had fled to Hong Kong and could not face justice in the region where the crime had been committed.
In an attempt to stop Hong Kong becoming a haven for those escaping criminal charges in China, authorities agreed on the need for an extradition treaty, so that those detained could be sent to China if that is where their offense took place.
However, opponents to the law in Hong Kong said the bill could be used to extradite those on political charges too. The protest movement that ensued made clear they opposed not just the law, but any attempt to move closer to China,.
Such sentiment was evident when protesters used Hong Kong’s British colonial era flag at opposition rallies. When protesters stormed the city’s legislative council, they vandalized Hong Kong’s post-independence flag and raised the flag of the British colonial administration that ruled the area until 1997.
Western governments and questionable NGOs, such as the U.S.' National Endowment for Democracy, pledged support for the protests which has pushed China into condemning foreign interference.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saturday slammed the U.K. saying that they are “immersed in the faded glory of colonialism and obsessed with condescendingly criticizing other countries."
Though Carrie Lam has agreed to drop the extradition bill, she also reiterated Saturday support for the "one country, two systems" model, that sees Hong Kong as under Chinese authority but with a significant degree of autonomy.