Carrie Lam blinks: Hong Kong government backs down on extradition bill in face of massive protests

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      Historic demonstrations in Hong Kong have forced the government to withdraw controversial legislation that would have allowed residents to face the criminal justice system in mainland China.

      Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that the extradition bill has been suspended and she has not revealed when it will be reintroduced.

      She said that the government twice introduced amendments "after listening to the views of the community".

      "My relevant colleagues and I have made our best efforts," Lam said. "But I have to admit that our explanation and communication work has not been sufficient or effective."

      Critics of the bill said it would mean the "end of Hong Kong" as a free place to live and work because it would enable the Chinese government to "kidnap" residents to face its brutal and arbitrary legal system.

      Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 with a Chinese government promise that the former British colony would retain its freedoms until 2047.

      The extradition bill made Lam a widely despised figure. 

      She said that "tens of thousands of people took part in protests or gatherings".

      Others have put the figure at as high as a million.

      "As a responsible government, we have to maintain law and order on the one hand, and evaluate the situation for the greatest interest of Hong Kong, including restoring calmness in society as soon as possible and avoiding any more injuries to law enforcement officers and citizens,” Lam stated.

      The chief executive also claimed that the "original urgency" to pass the bill may no longer exist because the government of Taiwan will not go along with a request to transfer a suspect in a murder case.

      The legislation called for criminals from Taiwan and Macau also to be extradited to China to face trial.

      Lam added that she wants to "restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more explanation work, and listen to different views".

      Another demonstration is scheduled on Sunday (June 16) in Hong Kong—and organizers say it will still go ahead.

      There's also a demonstration scheduled at 11 a.m. today (June 15) in Vancouver outside the Chinese consulate on Granville Street.

      Here are some of the responses over Twitter to Lam's announcement: