Hong Kong protest timeline: What will happen NOW? Will Hong Kong scrap extradition bill?

More than a million people took up placards and chanted against Hong Kong’s Government this month to resist China’s controversial extradition bill. The legislation proposed sending suspects to face trial in mainland China, where open justice is near impossible. The mass rallies appear to have work, with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam backing down, saying the bill would no longer “proceed”. Britain welcomed the move, adding China needed to stop “salami-slicing” its international obligations over the “one country, two systems” principle.

The treaty, officially known as the Sino-British Joint Declaration, was signed by the UK and China during the 1997 handover.

But pro-democracy groups are worried about a gradual erosion of democratic freedoms in Hong Kong since the end of British rule.

What will happen now? Will the extradition bill be scrapped for good?

Protestors say their fight is not over yet, rejecting Ms Lam’s apology and calling for her resignation.

The Hong Kong leader refused to say whether the bill would be “withdrawn” at a press conference on Tuesday, saying only it would not be re-introduced under her rule.

Her critics say her failure to retract the legislation entirely and stand down has made her tone deaf.

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Jimmy Sham, the convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, said: “Carrie Lam is continuing to lie.

“We hope the people of Hong Kong can unite with us … to keep working hard to withdraw the evil law.”

New protests are already planned but that is not all.

Shadow foreign and commonwealth affairs minister Helen Goodman has called on the Government to review the UK’s extradition arrangements with Hong Kong.

She said: “While we on this side of the House welcome the suspension of this disastrous bill the suspension is not enough.

“The Bill needs to die, it is an affront to democracy and the rule of law in Hong Kong and a fundamental breach of the one country, two systems principle.”

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Her comments follow Liberal Democrat former minister Alistair Carmichael’s concern about China’s “salami-slicing” of its commitment to the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Chinese authorities have been chipping away at aspects of universal suffrage in recent years as they try to draw Hong Kong back under Beijing rule.

Most recently, the 2014 Umbrella Movements were mass protests held in condemnation of China’s decision to vet future Hong Kong leaders.

Ultimately, they failed and China’s preferred choice, Carrie Lam, was elected as Hong Kong’s leader in 2017.

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Anxiety in the financial hub is rife as the judicial independence guaranteed for 50 years will reach its end in 2047.

There is no real certainty of what will happen next.

But with generations of Hong Kong residents brought up under the British legal system promoting freedom of speech, an independent judiciary and press freedom, further moves to Chinese law will prove problematic.

That means we can expect to see more mass protests in the future.

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