China is drawing up a plan to replace Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam with an “interim” chief executive once the protests settled down, the Financial Times reported. Meanwhile, the protests are showing no signs of ‘settling down’.
Lam has become a lightning rod for protests over fears that Beijing is tightening its grip, limiting the freedoms enjoyed under the “one country, two systems” principle enshrined when colonial ruler Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.
Sources told the FT that officials in China want the situation in Hong Kong to stabilise before making a final decision, as they do not want to be seen to be giving in to violence.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Hong Kong since mid-June in sometimes violent protests against a now-suspended draft bill that could have seen people sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party controlled courts.
The unrest was fueled by broader democratic concerns, that Beijing was tightening its grip on Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s freedoms under a “one country, two systems” rule allows the city’s residents more freedoms than on the mainland.
Two people have been shot and wounded by police and thousands injured since the protests escalated in June. More than 2,600 people have been arrested, one as young as 12.
Hong Kong has released Chan Tong-kai, the murder suspect whose case was used as an example to plan changes to the extradition rule. Chan Tong-kai is accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan last year before fleeing back to Hong Kong. But since Hong Kong and Taiwan do not have an extradition treaty, Taiwan could not avail his extradition. His case was cited when the government proposed amending the law.
He was in jail in HK for money laundering via withdrawing money from her credit card. Walking free on Wednesday after 19 months in prison, the 20-year old apologised to the victim’s family and said that he was willing to turn himself in to Taiwan.