Hong Kong leader formally withdraws controversial extradition bill

Hong Kong, extradition bill, China, protesters, protest

The withdrawal of the draft legislation was one of the protesters' key demands.

By Reuters

Published: Wed 4 Sep 2019, 11:37 AM

Last updated: Thu 5 Sep 2019, 1:39 AM

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Wednesday announced the formal withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill that has plunged the Chinese-ruled city into its worst political crisis in decades.

The bill, which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China where courts are controlled by the Communist Party, triggered months of unrest and posed the gravest challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
Here are some facts about the extradition bill:
* The law, which would cover Hong Kong's 7.4 million residents as well as foreign and Chinese nationals in the city, would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for the first time, for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.
*  Opponents of the bill saw it as a threat to the rule of law in the former British colony, putting people at the mercy of China's justice system, which rights groups say is plagued by torture, forced confessions and arbitrary detentions.
* Hong Kong's leader would have initiated and finally approved an extradition following a request from a foreign jurisdiction. A city judge would also have had to approve or reject such a request, though the scope to consider evidence or the "quality of justice" that a fugitive would face once surrendered to the requesting jurisdiction would be limited. The bill would have also removed oversight of extradition arrangements by the city's Legislative Council.
* If the extradition bill had become law, it would have been possible for mainland Chinese courts to request Hong Kong courts to freeze and confiscate assets related to crimes committed on the mainland, beyond an existing provision covering the proceeds of drug offences.
* Hong Kong officials had raised the need for the extradition bill following the murder last year of a Hong Kong woman on holiday in Taiwan. Police say her boyfriend confessed to the crime on his return to Hong Kong. Taiwan authorities had strongly opposed the bill, which they said could leave Taiwan citizens exposed in Hong Kong and had vowed to refuse to take back the murder suspect if the bill were to be passed.

Key dates in Hong Kong's protests
February 2019 - Hong Kong's Security Bureau submits a paper to the city's legislature proposing amendments to extradition laws that would provide for case-by-case extraditions to countries, including mainland China, beyond the 20 states with which Hong Kong already has treaties.
March 31 - Thousands take to the streets of Hong Kong to protest against the proposed extradition bill.
April 3 - Lam's government introduces amendments to Hong Kong's extradition laws that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

April 28 - Tens of thousands of people march on Hong Kong's city assembly building, the Legislative Council, to demand the scrapping of the proposed amendments to the extradition laws.

May 11 - Scuffles break out in Hong Kong's legislature between pro-democracy lawmakers and those loyal to Beijing over the extradition bill.

May 21 - Lam says her administration is determined to push the bill through the legislature.

May 30 - Hong Kong introduces concessions to the extradition bill, including limiting the scope of extraditable offences. Critics say they are not enough.

June 6 - More than 3,000 Hong Kong lawyers take to the streets dressed in black in a rare protest march against the extradition law.

June 9 - More than half a million take to the streets in protest.

June 12 - Police fire rubber bullets and tear gas during the city's largest and most violent protests in decades. Government offices are shut for the rest of the week.

June 15 - Lam indefinitely delays the proposed extradition law.

July 1 - Protesters storm the Legislative Council on the 22nd anniversary of the handover from British to Chinese rule, destroying pictures and daubing walls with graffiti.

July 9 - Lam says the extradition bill is dead and that government work on the legislation had been a "total failure".

July 21 - Men, clad in white T-shirts and some armed with poles, flood into rural Yuen Long station and storm a train, attacking passengers and passers-by, including members of the media, after several thousand activists surrounded China's representative office in the city earlier in the day, and clashed with police.

July 30 - Forty-four activists are charged with rioting, the first time this charge has been used during these protests.

August 9 - China's aviation regulator demands Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific suspend personnel who have taken part in the protests. The airline suspends a pilot, one of 44 charged with rioting the month before, the next day.

August. 14 - Police and protesters clash at Hong Kong's international airport after flights were disrupted for a second day. The airport resumed operations later that day, rescheduling hundreds of flights.

August 21 - China's biggest e-commerce company Alibaba delays its up to $15 billion listing in Hong Kong, initially set for late August.

September 2 - Lam says she has caused "unforgivable havoc" by igniting the political crisis engulfing the city and would quit if she had a choice, according to an audio recording obtained by Reuters of remarks she made to a group of businesspeople.

September 3 - Lam says she had never asked the Chinese government to let her resign to end the Chinese-ruled city's political crisis, responding to the Reuters report.

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