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Hong Kong protests

Hong Kong chief says Beijing backs her move to drop extradition bill

Lam says Chinese officials 'respect my decision' to withdraw legislation

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam arrives to address a news conference in the city on Thursday.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- A day after announcing she would formally withdraw a controversial extradition bill, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday said that Beijing had backed her decisions at every stage during the turmoil that has gripped the city for three months.

Addressing a question at a news conference on Thursday morning about whether the Chinese Communist Party was involved in the decision-making process on the bill, Lam said that officials in Beijing "respect my decision."

Lam said that central Chinese government officials continue to support the "one country, two systems" framework for Hong Kong, backing her initial support for the bill, her move to suspend legislative debate on the bill in mid-June, and her move to formally withdraw it.

The scrapping of the legislation is one of five protester demands. In a televised address on Wednesday, Hong Kong's embattled leader indicated she would not agree to the other demands, which include setting up an independent inquiry on alleged excessive police force against demonstrators.

On Thursday, Lam reiterated the four points of action that she had announced the previous day. These include the complete retraction of the proposed legislation; establishing a panel of international experts to assist the Independent Police Complaints Council in a fact-finding study; directing her principal officials to start a dialogue with the public; and asking academics, community leaders and others to review such social problems as the high-cost of housing and income disparity.

Protest organizers and other critics of the government's policy said that they will continue with demonstrations until all demands are met.

They insist that their other demands -- including the chief executive's resignation along with the introduction of universal suffrage, rescinding the characterization of some protesters as rioters, and the unconditional release of those demonstrators who have been arrested -- would have been nonexistent issues had Lam withdrawn the bill in mid-June after two marches that drew up to 2 million people.

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