Jun 17, 2019

What's next for Hong Kong

Protestors fill the streets of Hong Kong. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Hongkongers have won — for now — in their protests against an extradition law that drew a violent police response against crowds that reportedly numbered in the millions.

Driving the news: Earlier today, the city's head of police backed down from an earlier attempt to characterize protesters as rioters, according to the South China Morning Post. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam apologized yesterday for the extradition bill, withdrawing but not killing the China-friendly effort.

Why it matters: The last great protest movement in Hong Kong was for universal suffrage in 2014, ending with failure and the leader tossed in prison.

  • "Many young protesters see the extradition bill as hurting the territory’s judicial independence — in their view, the last vestige of insulation they now have from Beijing’s influence." (N.Y. Times)

What's next: Hongkongers are trying to get the extradition bill killed — not just pulled — and they're also pushing back hard against police.

  • Hong Kong journalists "filed a complaint to a police watchdog over 27 cases of alleged violence or harassment against reporters and other media personnel covering last week’s extradition bill protests." (SCMP)
  • The "public hospital operator has denied leaking patient data to the police after it emerged that anti-extradition bill protesters had been arrested after seeking medical help in the city-run facilities." (SCMP)

The bottom line: It's far from clear how much responsibility China's government bears for this historic error, but per the Financial Times:

  • "While the original miscalculation was Ms Lam’s, her move was initially welcomed by senior Beijing officials who were later caught off guard by the scale of the protest movement. In the end, according to people briefed on the behind-the-scenes ... between Hong Kong and Beijing over recent months, it was Mr Xi’s administration that made the decision to pull the amendment — a rare and embarrassing climbdown for China’s powerful president."

Go deeper 🎧... Behind the Hong Kong protests

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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

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