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Further protests expected in Hong Kong to mark anniversary of the return to China


Further protests expected in Hong Kong to mark anniversary of the return to China

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Photo: Reuters

Pro-democracy activists plan to hold a march in Hong Kong today—the 22nd anniversary of Britain’s handover of the city to China—to protest the now-suspended extradition bill which has been the source of protests.

So far, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has refused to fully withdraw the bill, saying it excludes extradition for political reasons. This has caused protests to continue and has left Ms Lam isolated—Beijing has stressed the bill was not its idea.

Authorities have sealed off major streets near the commemoration venues and moved to downscale celebrations, including possibly moving the main flag-raising inside for the first time since the 1997 handover.

However, the protests today are unlikely to move Ms Lam, as there is no indication she will step-down nor that she will withdraw the bill, which was originally intended to right a wrong when a Hong Kong national could not be extradited to Taiwan for murder. Nor will Beijing likely abandon her, despite distancing itself from the bill.

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A watered-down bill, like implementing tighter controls on extradition, could provide a compromise for both sides. If a compromise is not reached, protests are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, harming the productivity of one of the world’s leading financial centres.

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