Hong Kong leader to withdraw extradition bill

Hong Kong’s embattled pro-Beijing leader is planning to permanently shelve a loathed extradition bill on Wednesday, local media reported, a potentially major concession to pro-democracy protesters after three months of crippling demonstrations.

Carrie Lam, the city’s unelected chief executive, is expected the make the announcement Wednesday afternoon, the South China Morning Post and the HK01 news website reported, citing sources.

The reports sparked jubilation on the city’s stock market, which soared four percent in afternoon trade, as hopes rose that Lam and Beijing may finally be willing to offer a political solution after weeks of refusing to make any concessions.

News that some sort of announcement was due first began to emerge around lunchtime on Wednesday when pro-establishment lawmakers said they had been summoned to meet Lam.

One lawmaker, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP their camp had been asked to meet the city’s leader at 4pm (0800 GMT) ahead of an expected major announcement.

Reports then emerged that a full withdrawal to the bill was on the cards.

“This gesture to formally withdraw is a bid to cool down the atmosphere,” the South China Morning Post quoted one source as saying.

That speculation sparked a frenzy on the stock market which has been battered by both China’s trade war with the United States and Beijing’s refusal to find a political solution to the weeks of protests in the international financial hub.

The blue-chip Hang Seng index was up around four percent by the end of the afternoon.

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