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HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Saturday announced suspension of the proposed amendments to the city’s extradition laws.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced the decision three days after a protest-turned-riot against the amendment bill brought to a standstill the city’s main administrative and business areas.
The decision, Lam said, was made after the SAR government had carefully evaluated the situation for the greatest interests of Hong Kong.
She said the suspension will allow the government to restart communication with all sectors of society, do more to explain the bill and listen to different views on the matter.
Lam did not give details on the resumption of the legislation work. The legislation will only be resumed after the public consultation is completed, she added.
The government promises to report to and consult with members of the Legislative Council Panel of Security before deciding the next course of action, she stressed.
The Foreign Ministry said the central government supports, respects and understands the decision of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government to suspend the amendment to the extradition law.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement that the central government will continue its staunch support for Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the SAR government in governing Hong Kong in accordance with the law and uphold the SAR"s prosperity and stability with people from all sectors.
Since the return of Hong Kong, the policy of "one country, two systems" and Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy has been faithfully implemented, and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents have been fully guaranteed according to law, Geng said.
Maintaining Hong Kong"s prosperity and stability serves not only China"s interests, but also the interests of all countries across the world, he said.
“I would like to emphasize that Hong Kong is China"s SAR and its affairs are purely China"s internal affairs that brook no interference from any country, organization or individual,” Geng said, adding China"s determination to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests, and uphold Hong Kong"s prosperity and stability is rock solid.
The SAR government proposed several amendments to the current Fugitive Offenders and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance due to a case involving a Hong Kong resident who fled back to the city after allegedly murdering his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan.
The revisions will allow Hong Kong to surrender fugitives on a case-by-case basis to jurisdictions that do not have long-term rendition agreements with it, including the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.
The bill was scheduled to go through a second reading at the full LegCo meeting on Wednesday. It was postponed until further notice due to the protest.