But she did not agree to resign or withdraw the bill entirely, as many protesters have demanded. Instead, she said that so long as there was a public dispute over the bill’s content, work on it would not resume in Hong Kong’s legislature.
As calls for protesters to gather on Friday around the Legislative Council circulated on social media and in messaging groups, the government shut down its headquarters for the day, citing security concerns. It was not immediately clear if the sit-in would disrupt scheduled meetings of the legislature on Friday.
The extradition bill would allow the authorities in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous territory, to send people suspected of crimes to jurisdictions such as mainland China, with which it does not have an extradition agreement. Opponents of the bill fear that, if it becomes law, it would open a door for Beijing to take anyone from Hong Kong — including dissidents — into the mainland’s opaque judicial system, which is controlled by the Communist Party.
China’s Communist Party under President Xi Jinping has increasingly tried to exert control over Hong Kong, which has its own laws, independent courts and news outlets, and a vocal community of pro-democracy activists and lawmakers. Beijing has steadily eroded those liberties over the last several years, including by trying to silence critics and stacking Hong Kong’s leadership with its supporters.
Many protesters have expressed seething anger at Beijing’s encroachment on their rights, most strikingly when hundreds of thousands of people, or as many as one million, descended on central Hong Kong on June 9 in the first of three major demonstrations over the past two weeks. The protests have largely remained peaceful although the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets during skirmishes on June 12 with a large group of protesters, some of whom had thrown bricks and bottles at riot police.
Perhaps wary about provoking a greater backlash, Mr. Xi’s government has so far been muted in its response to the protests. Its Foreign Ministry has said it still supports the bill, and criticized “foreign forces that interfere” in Hong Kong’s affairs.