The proposed fugitive bill that triggered months of protests in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has been formally withdrawn, Lee Ka-Chiu, secretary for security of Hong Kong, announced Wednesday.
The bill had been suspended for months, with Chief Executive Carrie Lam saying it was "dead" in July. But now, the bill is officially scrapped.
The Legislative Council held its weekly session after it was cut short last week when chaos erupted as Lam tried to deliver her policy address.
Had the fugitive bill been passed into law, it would have closed a loophole in the Special Administrative Region's law that allows criminals to take refuge in Hong Kong, bringing the existing statue in line with those already applied in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and many others.
Murder suspect released
The bill's formal withdrawal came on the same day a man whose actions inadvertently triggered the protests was released from prison.
Contrary to popular belief, the bill was requested by the family of a pregnant woman who was murdered by her boyfriend in Taiwan in February last year. The 20-year-old murderer, Chan Tong-kai, a Hong Kong resident, fled back to his home city where the police in Taiwan could not apprehend him.
The Department of Justice of Hong Kong, however, found that there was no sufficient evidence to charge him but the money laundering, as there is no extradition agreement signed between the jurisdictions of Hong Kong (where Chan is now) and Taiwan (where Chan committed the crime). That's why Chief Executive Carrie Lam had proposed the now-defunct fugitive bill, which provoked the mass protest crisis in the city that is seen as becoming increasingly violent.
Last Friday, Chan wrote a letter to Chief Executive Carrie Lam, offering to surrender himself to Taiwan upon his release.
The HKSAR government said it would provide necessary and legally feasible assistance within the mutual legal assistance framework, calling on Taiwan authorities not to complicate simple matters after they expressed doubt over Chan's offer to surrender.
"Taiwan's side should not put political considerations to override the rule of law and justice," said Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, HKSAR's chief secretary for the administration.
Hong Kong has been gripped by violent protests over the last few months with radical protesters attacking police, smashing shops, beating up passersby and paralyzing transport.
"What is happening in Hong Kong today are in no way peaceful protests," Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday said in an interview with AFP in Paris.
"It's violence pure and simple. These are unacceptable acts in any country," he stressed, accusing some Western media of describing the violent protests as democratic and peaceful "in total disregard to reality."
In the recent violence in Spain's Catalonia and the UK's capital London, protesters blockaded airports and smashed up shops, claiming they are "copying Hong Kong's riots" while some Western politicians and media are taking an apparently different attitude by remaining silent so far, compared with their broad coverage on the so-called "pro-democracy activities" in Hong Kong.