Hong Kong leader calls for dialogue as protesters reject concession


Major figures among protesters reportedly rejected Carrie Lam’s olive branch, pledging more demonstrations

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive has called on the pro-democracy protesters to end their demonstrations after bowing to one of their key demands by scrapping the controversial extradition bill.

Adopting a conciliatory tone at her press conference Thursday, Carrie Lam called for dialogue and said the decision to withdraw the bill was an attempt “to help prevent violence and stop chaos as soon as possible, resume the social order and help our economy and people’s livelihood to move forward.”

The withdrawal was officially announced on Wednesday, after months of protests shaking up Hong Kong, with hundreds of thousands hitting the streets to condemn the divisive extradition bill.

Seen by some as a major U-turn on one of the protesters’ main demands, the announcement nevertheless seems to have fallen on deaf ears as prominent figures in the pro-democracy movement reportedly pledged to stage new demonstrations.

Those activists criticize Carrie Lam’s decision as a belated one, adding that it does nothing to address the rest of the their demands, including a third-party investigation into alleged police brutality during the protests.

The Hong Kong police reportedly opted for a heavy-handed approach, relying on rubber bullets, beanbag rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowds. Violence was also reported on the other side.

The bill that triggered the protests would have allowed Hong Kong to detain and extradite individuals to countries that it has no formal extradition agreement with, including mainland China. Critics saw it as an open door for Beijing to silence the pro-democracy voices as it seeks to tighten its grip on the region.

After the demonstrations kicked off on March 31, the bill was suspended, but not formally withdrawn, as demanded by the protesters, setting the stage for the largest instance of public unrest ever seen by the city.