Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, is set to formally withdraw the extradition bill that has sparked months of protests in the region, a government source has confirmed.
Protests in the former British colony began in June over the bill, which would have meant criminals could be extradited to the Chinese mainland.
Ms Lam will meet Hong Kong politicians at 4pm local time (9am BST) on Wednesday, according to a member of the region’s legislative council.
The often violent protests over the bill have since evolved into calls for more democracy in Hong Kong.
Ms Lam has been facing pressure over the draft legislation, which many see as an example of an attempt to erode the region’s autonomy.
The withdrawal of the bill is one of the protesters’ five key demands and Ms Lam had previously said the bill was “dead” – but stopped short of fully removing the draft legislation.
The other demands from the protesters include retraction of the word “riot” to describe rallies, the release of all arrested demonstrators, an independent enquiry into the police’s alleged brutality and the right for the people of Hong Kong to democratically choose their Own leaders.
It comes only a day after Carrie Lam insisted shenever asked the Chinese governmentto let her resign to end the city’s political crisis – despite a leaked voice recording of her saying she would step down if she could.
Hong Kong was returned to the Chinese government by the UK in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” rule, which meant the region could retain a level of relative autonomy.
However, protesters in Hong Kong were angered by the extradition bill because it would have meant criminals could have been taken out of the city’s independent legal system and instead be tried in China – which was seen as evidence of Beijing’s creeping influence.
The mostly young protesters have previously said that a degree of violence is necessary to get the attention of the Government, after peaceful rallies proved futile.
Ms Lam has condemned the violence and said it has to end before a dialogue can begin.
The violence has also been slammed by Beijing, which says it will “not sit idly by” if the situation worsens.
The region’s Hang Seng index jumped by 3.3% following early reports that the bill would be withdrawn.
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