Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will announce formal withdrawal of a China extradition bill that sparked unprecedented political unrest, resulting into mass rallies and sporadic violent confrontations between police and hardcore protesters in the region for the last several months. According to sources, close to the Hong Kong government, Lam will meet the protestors' demand, announcing withdrawal of the proposed bill later on Wednesday. However, the chief executive's office is yet to respond on the development.
The move comes months after Lam in July admitted that her administration's attempt to introduce the bill that would have allowed extraditions of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China, was a "complete failure". Also, Lam said that her government would not seek to reactivate the bill in parliament.
"There is no such plan. The bill is dead," she was quoted as saying amid calls mounting for her resignation.
The international finance hub has been plunged into its worst crisis in recent history, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets while protesters trashing parliament building, calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory.
The protests are also part of a prolonged battle for the soul of Hong Kong between those who see full integration with the autocratic mainland as an inevitability and others wishing to preserve the city's unique freedoms and culture.
Under the 1997 handover deal with the British, China promised to allow Hong Kong to keep key liberties such as its independent judiciary and rights like freedom of speech.
But many say that 50-year deal is already being reneged on, citing the disappearance into mainland custody of dissident booksellers, the disqualification of prominent politicians and the jailing of democracy protest leaders. Authorities have also resisted calls for the city's leader to be directly elected by the people.