Hong Kong suspends unpopular extradition bill after mass protests

Hong Kong's leader has suspended a controversial extradition bill indefinitely after hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets this week.

Chief executive Carrie Lam said she took the decision in response to the widespread public anger over a bill which would have allowed authorities to send suspects to stand trial in mainland China.

Critics of the proposed bill said it would lead to the erosion of Hong Kong's legal protections promised by Beijing when it became a semi-autonomous region in 1997.

A mass protest had been planned in the former British colony on Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the streets in demonstrations earlier this week. Protests turned violent on Wednesday, adding to pressure on Ms Lam to back down.

Ms Lam said the government would study the matter further.

She said: “After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise.

“I want to stress that the government is adopting an open mind. We have no intention to set a deadline for this work.”

Ms Lam added she would “adopt a sincere and humble attitude in accepting criticism” over the government’s handling of the issue.

She had previously refused to withdraw the bill, and many protesters have demanded her resignation.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators had taken to the streets of Hong Kong in protest against the proposed bill.

  • What are the protests all about? Natalia Jorquera explains

Violent scenes erupted on Wednesday, as police clashed with protesters. Authorities used pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds, who had gathered around government buildings.

Organisers said a million people marched on Sunday, in opposition to the change in legislation.

The mass demonstration was among the largest in Hong Kong's history, as tensions swell in the semi-autonomous city.