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Hong Kong Chief Executive: China “respects and supports” withdrawal of extradition bill

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — China “understands, respects and supports” its government’s move to formally withdraw its extradition bill as part of measures it hopes will help the city “move forward” after months of tension, Hong Kong’s chief executive said on Thursday.

At a news conference, Lam was repeatedly asked why she had waited so long to withdraw the bill, which provided for criminal suspects to be deported to mainland China despite violent protests but avoided answering questions.

“It’s not true to describe this as a change of mind,” she said.

She said the total withdrawal of the bill was a decision by her government with Beijing’s support.

“During the whole process, the central government took a stand to understand why we had to do that,” said Lam, who appeared less tense than she was on Wednesday as she appeared on television. They respect my opinion and support me all the time.”

Lam on Wednesday withdrew the bill, which introduced the Chinese-ruled city in the worst political crisis in decades.

It also announced other measures, including opening a space for dialogue with society to try to solve deep-rooted economic, social and political problems, including housing.

The withdrawal of the bill is one of the five demands of pro-democracy protesters, although many protesters and lawmakers said the move was not enough and too late.

The other four demands of the protesters include the cessation of the use of the word “riot” to describe the rallies, the release of all detained protesters, the opening of an independent investigation into the police conduct they consider to be brutal, and the granting of Hong Kong citizens the right to choose their leaders in a democratic manner.

Protesters continue to call for all demands to be met and many have stressed an independent investigation. Lam said on Thursday the Independent Police Complaints Board had enough credibility to take over the investigation.

The withdrawal of the bill is an olive branch that leaves protesters no excuse to continue the violence, the official China Daily said.

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