Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has indefinitely delayed a controversial extradition bill following mass protests.
The proposed law, allowing extraditions to mainland China, were met with Hong Kong’s biggest street protests in decades.
Earlier this week, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators, who fear that the law could target political opponents of Beijing and undermine the principle of “one country, two systems” that has allowed Hong Kong to have its own laws.
The system, which was enshrined in the Sino-British joint declaration that guaranteed sovereignty to China in 1984, also promised that the way of life in Hong Kong would remain unchanged for at least 50 years.
After days of protests, which turned violent, Lam announced the proposed bill had been suspended.
“After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise, restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more explanation work and listen to different views of society,” Lam said in a news conference.
The law would permit extradition requests from authorities in mainland China,Taiwan and Macau for those accused of crimes such as rape and murder.
Critics feared that such a change would have diminished the city’s judicial independence and expose its citizens to China’s very different justice system.
Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt had urged the Hong Kong government to listen to the “clear sign of significant public concern.”