Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said that China “understands, respects and supports” her government’s move to formally withdraw an extradition bill, part of measures she hoped would help the city “move forward” from months of unrest.
In a press conference, Lam was repeatedly questioned on why it took her so long to withdraw the bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China despite increasingly violent protests, but she skirted the questions.
“It is not exactly correct to describe this as a change of mind,” she said.
She added that full withdrawal of the bill was a decision made by her government with Beijing’s backing.
“Throughout the whole process, the Central People’s Government took the position that they understood why we have to do it. They respect my view, and they support me all the way,” said Lam, dressed in a cream suit and looking less tense than a televised appearance the day before.
She withdrew the bill, which has plunged the Chinese territory into its worst political crisis in decades, on Wednesday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index surged more than 4% to a one-month high ahead of the announcement. On Thursday, the market was up 0.4% by midday.