Lawmakers in Hong Kong on Wednesday formally withdrew the bill that launched four months of anti-government protests. On the same day, the murder suspect at the center of the dispute was released from jail in Hong Kong.
He said he plans to turn himself in to Taiwanese officials.
Protesters and opposition lawmakers, however, say these actions are small. They plan to continue urging Hong Kong’s government to accept all five of their demands. Those include the right for everyone to vote for the area’s leader and an investigation of police violence during the protests.
How the protests started
The protests began after twenty-year-old Chan Tong-kai reportedly killed his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan last year. Chan is from Hong Kong. But officials suggested that Chan not go to trial in the city. Instead, they proposed that he and others like him should go to trial in China, which partly controls Hong Kong.
The idea that China would handle criminal trials for Hongkongers angered many residents. They believed the move would give too much additional control to China.
And so protests against the bill started in June. In time, the demands grew.
What will happen now?
After lawmakers withdrew the proposal this week, activist Leung Kwok Hung spoke to VOA. He said the move is not enough.
“I think it’s too little and too late,” he said. “The five demands from the Hong Kong people should be dealt with.”
Hung added that the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, needs to offer a plan to “solve the problem of Hong Kong.”
The city operates under what is known as a “One Country, Two Systems” agreement with China. The agreement permits Hong Kong to have an independent legal system and police force. Its chief executive is elected by a small number of officials and must be approved by China.
Lawmaker Raymond Chan told VOA that he, too, would not ease his demands. “We will still give pressure to Carrie Lam and the secretary and the government, force them to reply to the five main demands of the society.”
What about the murder suspect?
The situation has also put pressure on the relationship between Hong Kong and Taiwan. Officials from the two countries do not agree where the man who is suspected of killing his girlfriend should face trial.
The murder suspect, Chan Tong-kai, has spent the last 19 months in prison in Hong Kong. He was convicted for using his dead girlfriend’s credit cards.
He said this week that he would willingly surrender to officials in Taiwan to face murder charges there. But Taiwanese leaders asked Hong Kong officials to try him. Hong Kong officials have refused. They say the trial is Taiwan’s responsibility.
Chan appeared before reporters on Wednesday. He looked meek and apologetic. He stopped by the cameras and bowed deeply. Then he said, “To the society, and to Hongkongers, I can only say sorry.”
I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.
Kelly Jean Kelly adapted this story from VOA’s Anita Powell. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.
Words in This Story
convict –v. to prove that someone is guilty of a crime in a court of law
meek –adj. to show quietness and gentleness