China reportedly rejected a proposal from Carrie Lam, the head of Hong Kong’s government, this summer to withdraw a controversial extradition bill in a bid to ease tensions in the territory.
The Chinese central government also ordered her not to yield to any of the protesters’ other demands, according to Reuters.
The apparent rebuff of Lam’s suggestions indicates the extent to which China is controlling the Hong Kong government’s response to the ongoing political unrest in the territory, which began in June.
Lam’s report is said to have examined the feasibility of agreeing to five demands made by the protesters:
- Withdrawing the extradition bill
- Holding an independent inquiry into the protests
- Holding fully democratic elections
- Not using the term “riot” to describe protest
- Dropping charges against protesters arrested so far
Of those options, withdrawal of the bill and an independent inquiry were deemed most feasible politically, a senior Hong Kong government official told Reuters.
The moves were intended to help pacify protesters angered by Lam’s silence during the unrest, he said.
But Beijing told Lam not to withdraw the bill or to launch an inquiry, the official added.
The proposed extradition bill, which first sparked the widespread protests in June, would have allowed Hong Kong’s citizens to be extradited to mainland China, and was viewed by some as encroaching on the freedoms established for the territory under the “one country, two systems” rules.
Although Lam has said the bill is “dead”, she has refused to confirm whether it has been “withdrawn”.
In a statement responding to Reuters’ report, Lam’s office said her government had made efforts to address protesters’ concerns, but did not comment directly on whether it had made such a proposal to Beijing, or received instructions from it. The Chinese government did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
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