Hong Kong leader says measures announced this week are a 'first step'

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a news conference in Hong Kong. Photograph:( Reuters )

Agencies Hong Kong, China Sep 06, 2019, 01.39 PM (IST)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Friday, measures put forward by the government this week to solve the city's political turmoil are a first step, but will not solve the crisis immediately.

Lam withdrew a controversial extradition bill this week as part of four measures aimed at appeasing activists, but many people said it was too little, too late.

The Beijing-backed leader, speaking during a trip to Guangxi region in mainland China, also said she disagreed with credit rating agency Fitch Ratings' downgrade of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is bracing for more demonstrations this weekend, with protesters threatening to disrupt transport links to the airport as embattled Lam's withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill fails to appease some activists.

Protesters plan to block traffic to the city's international airport on Saturday, a week after thousands of demonstrators disrupted transport links, which saw some of the worst violence since the unrest escalated three months ago.

The Airport Authority, in an advert in the South China Morning Post newspaper on Friday, urged protesters "not to disrupt the journey of tens of thousands of travellers who use the airport every day".

In a pre-recorded televised address on Wednesday, Lam said the extradition bill had been withdrawn, conceding to one of the protesters' five demands, although many said the move was too little, too late.

The extradition bill, which would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party, triggered mass protests that have now evolved into a broader backlash against the Hong Kong government and its political masters in Beijing.

The massive and some times violent protests present Chinese President Xi Jinping with his greatest popular challenge since he came to power in 2012.

Many Hong Kong residents fear Beijing is eroding the autonomy granted to the former British colony when it was handed back to China in 1997.

Story highlights

Lam withdrew a controversial extradition bill this week as part of four measures aimed at appeasing activists, but many people said it was too little, too late.