June 15 – The Hong Kong government has suspended its highly controversial plan to allow extraditions to mainland China, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced.

She had previously refused to scrap the bill despite mass protests from Hong Kong residents.

“The bill has caused a lot of division in society,” she told a press conference, referring to “doubts and misunderstanding”.

She said she had heard the calls for her government to “pause and think”.

“I have to admit in terms of explanation and communication, there were inadequacies,” she said.

“We have to bear in mind the greatest interests of Hong Kong,” she added – which involved “restoring peace and order”.

The government had argued the proposed extradition bill would “plug the loopholes” so that the city would not be a safe haven for criminals, following a murder case in Taiwan.

Ms Lam said that the urgency felt to pass the bill before the legislative year ends “perhaps no longer exists”.

Hundreds of thousands of people have protested against the bill and further demonstrations are planned for Sunday.

But critics said it would expose people in Hong Kong to China’s deeply flawed justice system and lead to further erosion of the city’s judicial independence.

Hong Kong is a former British colony, but was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy. (BBC)

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