Updated Jun 16, 2019

Hong Kong's leader apologizes as protesters demand resignation

Thousands rally in Hong Kong, despite clashes with police days earlier. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam has apologized for a controversial extradition bill that prompted hundreds of thousands of protesters to take the streets on Sunday and demand for her resignation.

"The Chief Executive acknowledges that her government work has been unsatisfactory, leading to confusion and conflict in society, and leading to disappointment and heartbreak. The Chief Executive would like to apologize to the city’s citizens and is open to receiving criticism [on how to] further improve and provide better services for the broader society.”

Why it matters: Lam indefinitely suspended the bill on Saturday after violent clashes between protestors and police this week, but refused to withdraw it completely. The move did little to quell what has become Hong Kong's worst political crisis in decades.

The big picture: Critics argue that the bill, which would allow people arrested in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China, could be used as a political ploy to arrest and try political activists who oppose the Chinese government. The bill has sparked broader concerns about the increase of Beijing's influence on the former British colony, which retained a high degree of autonomy after being returned to China in 1997, per the BBC.

  • Organizers say today's protest may be even bigger than last week's demonstrations over the bill itself, which drew more than 1 million people, Bloomberg reports.
In photos
Many protesters are concerned that Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam supported the bill. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
Young families and elderly protesters are among those attending the rally, per Reuters. Photo: Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images
A sign making reference to police firing on protesters with rubber bullets on Wednesday. Photo: Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images
A placard (C) displaying an image of Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Many protesters dress in black for the latest rally. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters display placards during Sunday's march. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Thousands have rallied, despite clashes with police days earlier. Photo: Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters arrive for the rally. Photo: Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images
A protester waves a British flag. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Protesters continue to rally despite the city's embattled leader suspending the bill. Photo: Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images
A protester holds up a placard ahead of a new rally. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
A protester hands out posters before the rally. Photo: Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images
Hongkongers gather for another mass protest. Photo: Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images
The site where a man died unfurling a protest banner Saturday, per Reuters. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Go deeper: Hong Kong's people stand up to China

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