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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

Go deeper

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.

24 mins ago - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Climate reckoning for oil and gas CEOs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Top executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell will face a reckoning on Capitol Hill Thursday, as they're grilled on evidence that their companies knew for years that their products were driving climate change but chose to downplay or deny it.

Why it matters: The hearing before the House Oversight Committee will be the first time these executives have been brought together to provide sworn testimony regarding what they knew about the ties between their company's products and climate change, and when they knew it.