Carrie Lam Formally Withdraws Extradition Bill, Problems Remain in Hong Kong
While the full withdrawal of the extradition bill that sparked record-breaking protests across Hong Kong is highly significant, many activists still condemn it as “too little, too late.”
“Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has said her government will formally withdraw an extradition bill that has ignited months of protests and plunged the territory into its biggest political crisis in decades,” The Guardian reported last week. The extradition bill was seen as highly controversial as pro-democracy protesters saw it as a conduit for the totalitarian Communist Chinese government to impose its will on the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong.
“With Wednesday’s announcement, Lam has now conceded to one of five key demands of the demonstrators. However, the chief executive did not respond to protesters’ other demands, which include an independent inquiry into police behavior, amnesty for those arrested and democratic reforms to give Hong Kong residents universal suffrage,” the Guardian’s report continued, meaning resentment between protesters and Lam’s administration will continue.
What Withdrawal Means
The South China Morning Post reported, “The decision to withdraw the bill will mean that the government is finally acceding to at least one of the five demands of the protesters, who have taken to the streets over the past 13 weeks to voice not just their opposition to the legislation, but the overall governance of the city in demonstrations that have become increasingly violent.”
However, without investigations into police conduct during the months-long protest movement, Lam’s administration doesn’t gain any favor with pro-democratic members of Hong Kong.
Despite the announcement, the Chinese government has continued to spread propaganda about activists. For example, “Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11,” read the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily on its Facebook page. In actuality, Hong Kong protesters called off any events out of respect for 9/11 to be “in solidarity against terrorism.”
“We don’t even need to do a fact check to know that this is fake news,” one activist said to Reuters. “The state media doesn’t care about its credibility. Whenever something they claimed to have heard on WhatsApp or friends’ friends, they will spread it right away.”
Responses to Lam & Current Events
Initial response to Carrie Lam:
1. Too little and too late now — Carrie Lam's response comes after 7 lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protestors arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station.
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 (@joshuawongcf) September 4, 2019
Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy movement, went on to say in subsequent tweets, “The intensified police brutality in the previous weeks have left an irreversible scar to the entire HK society. And therefore, at this very moment, when Carrie Lam announced withdrawal, people would not believe it is a ‘sincere’ move.”
Wong continued, “Instead, HK people are well-aware of her notorious track record. Whenever there are signs of sending a palm branch, they always come with a far tighter grip on exercising civil rights. Earlier today Ronny Tong has already advised using secret police.”
Wong also encouraged international onlookers to not be “deceived” by information coming from Lam or the Chinese government in relation to the ongoing protests.
With tension continuing to escalate, it’s unlikely there will be a resolution or an agreement in the near future unless Lam decides to investigate the police department and agrees to more democratic reforms and protestors’ demands.