Following the recent wave of massive protests across the city, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has apologized for proposing controversial legislation that would allow extraditions to mainland China, which opponents say would seriously curtail their civil liberties.
“I offer my most sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong,” she said at a news conference, according to The New York Times. “I’ve still got much to learn and do in better balancing diverse interests, in listening to all walks of life, an in taking our society forward.”
Her apology marks the “clearest apology for a major public initiative by any chief executive of Hong Kong since Britain returned sovereignty over the territory to China in 1997,” the Times reports.
The contentious legislation — which Lam has now suspended but not withdrawn — would allow Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory, to send people suspected of crimes to jurisdictions including mainland China, where the judicial system is “notoriously opaque and under tight control of the ruling Communist Party,” the Times reports.
Opponents fear that anyone in the city could be sent to the mainland under the law, including dissidents. Critics are calling on Lam to withdraw the bill and resign. She has said she does not plan to step down.
At least 32 people were arrested during the recent protests, according to the Times. The demonstration turned violent when protesters attempting to storm the Hong Kong legislature threw items including umbrellas at the police, and the police, in turn, fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd.
Read the full story at The New York Times.