Published: Thu, September 05, 2019
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

U.S. stocks gain as odds of Hong Kong crisis ebb

U.S. stocks gain as odds of Hong Kong crisis ebb

"Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is set to formally withdraw on Wednesday afternoon the much-despised extradition bill that sparked the almost three-month-long protest crisis now roiling the city", the South China Morning Post reported.

While the government has withdrawn the bill, they have not met the remainder of the protestor's demands, which include the release of arrested protestors, the resignation of Lam, an independent inquiry into police brutality seen during the protests, and legal reform to make the election of Hong Kong's chief executive and legislative council a vote open to the public.

The Hong Kong stock market soared 4%, boosted by reports of the bill's withdrawal.

Opponents said allowing criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China would undermine the city's judicial independence and risked exposing Hong Kongers to unfair trials and violent treatment.

Lam has previously said the bill was "dead" and admitted she had caused "unforgivable havoc" by introducing it.

The withdrawal, a key demand of protesters but just one of five, came after unrest that drove the former British colony to the edge of anarchy as the government repeatedly refused to back down - igniting pitched battles across the city of seven million, the arrests of more than 1,000 protesters, and leaving a society deeply divided.

An anti-extradition bill protester is detained by riot police during a protest outside Mong Kok police station, in Hong Kong September 2, 2019.

But Lam said in a pre-recorded television message on Wednesday that the government would not accept other demands, including an independent inquiry into alleged police misconduct against protesters. They also want an independent investigation into how police handled the unrest, and have called on Lam to resign.

One lawmaker said today they were being summoned to a meeting with Lam for an announcement this afternoon.

Great snakes two-headed serpent spotted in Bali
Great snakes two-headed serpent spotted in Bali

With protesters and Lam's government at an impasse there are concerns Hong Kong's economy could go into a tailspin, with signs already that money is moving out to other financial centres, including Singapore.

China has denounced the protests and warned about the impact on Hong Kong's economy.

The Hang Seng Index, a measure of Hong Kong's stock market performance, shot up nearly 4% early Wednesday afternoon as rumors Lam might withdraw the bill broke out.

The South China Morning Post cited an unidentified government source as saying the Bill would be withdrawn before the city's legislature resumed in October.

- If the extradition bill had become law, it would have been possible for mainland Chinese courts to request Hong Kong courts to freeze and confiscate assets related to crimes committed on the mainland, beyond an existing provision covering the proceeds of drug offences.

She said the bill's formal withdrawal will only "stoke the fire even more".

Hong Kong and foreign companies have also been under intense pressure to support China's ruling Communist Party against the protesters.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip told BBC Chinese the latest move was "a positive step forward". "Five demands, not one less", she said. China had promised to utilize a "one country, two systems" model of governance for Hong Kong for at least the first fifty years, in order to ease the transition, but has periodically put laws in place to bring Hong Kong more into line with Chinese rule.

October 1 also looms large on the horizon; this year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

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