Hong Kong withdraws extradition bill

After months of protest Hong Kong's government has withdrawn the controversial extradition law which had been put on hold since mid-June. Commentators see the move as a tactic rather than a change of heart, and doubt it will put an end to the conflict.

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Zeit Online (DE) /

Protests taking on a dark dynamic

Die Zeit's China correspondent Xifan Yang doesn't believe the protests will end now:

“The protest movement has taken on a nihilistic, gloomy dynamic of its own. Opponents of the government aren't going to be satisfied with the status quo and the creeping erosion of human rights in Hong Kong. Very few entertain any illusions that Beijing won't pull the noose even tighter around Hong Kong's neck in the months and years to come. The more radical demonstrators want to fight their battle to the end. In their anger they long for a redemptive catharsis, as horrible as its end may be. Their message to the government: 'If we go down in flames, so will you.'”

Público (PT) /

A democratic avant-garde

Público hails the demonstrators in Hong Kong as courageous pioneers of democracy in Asia:

“The daily protests take place in the rain, outside the parliament, at the airport, despite threats from the police, with determination and courage, and in the name of values that no democrat can deny. Hong Kong has become a beacon in the fight for democracy. The demonstrations were triggered by a controversial extradition law, but the real goal is universal suffrage. A measure provided for in the Hong Kong-China Agreement which Beijing doesn't want to accept. That's why Hong Kong's fight is brave and will be crucial for the future of freedom in China and Asia.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

A tactical concession

Nothing will change in China's basic stance, Helsingin Sanomat warns:

“When differences of opinion on a matter of authority come to a head, the situation inevitably turns into a spiralling crisis. ... China's repealing the draft law could be interpreted as a loss of face, nevertheless Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam retracted it. In doing so she took as much of the blame as possible upon herself, no doubt in the hope that this would calm the demonstrations and prevent a loss of China's authority. However, this concession is hardly a change of strategy on China's part. President Xi Jinping has stated that there can be no concessions on matters of principle, whereas regarding tactical matters one could be more flexible.”