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Hong Kong suspends extradition law after protests

Hong Kong's government has suspended a proposed law that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China for trial after mass protests.

The controversial measure has been shelved indefinitely by the embattled territory's chief executive Carrie Lam in response to an angry public backlash.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam
Image: The climbdown by chief executive Carrie Lam came in the face of a deepening crisis

Many in the former British colony feared it would further erode legal protections and freedoms promised by Beijing when it took control in 1997.

There were also concerned it could be used to target critics of the Chinese regime.

The climbdown on the proposal came ahead of a further major opposition rally on Sunday.

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Police officer aims a tear gas gun at protesters during a demonstration against a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong
The U-turn follows violent clashes in Hong Kong

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents have taken to the streets in earlier demonstrations, with protests turning violent on Wednesday, ramping up pressure on Ms Lam to back down.

Announcing the suspension, she said: "The original urgency to pass the bill in this legislative year, is perhaps, no longer there.

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"After a repeated internal deliberation over the last two days, I now announce, that the government has decided to suspend the legislative-amendment exercise."

Ms Lam added: "I want to stress that the government is adopting an open mind to heed comprehensively different views in society towards the bill."

A placard showing a 1989 photo of "Tank Man" from Tiananmen Square
Image: Many in the former British colony feared the move would further erode legal protections

Promising the measure would be put on ice "until our work in communication, explanation and listening to opinions is completed", she said: "We have no intention to set a deadline for this work."

Ms Lam, who previously refused to withdraw the bill and has faced demands for her resignation, said she would "adopt a sincere and humble attitude in accepting criticism" over the government's handling of the issue.

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