The Hong Kong Protests Are Already Too Far Gone to Return to Normal Now

Stratfor Worldview

Key point: Carrie Lam’s may have finally killed the extradition bill, but it is too little, too late. Many of the protestors have become radicalized due to police violence and will not be satisfied.

It's the announcement Hong Kong's protesters were waiting for — three months ago. In an effort to quell the city's protests, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam formally declared on Sept. 4 that she was fully withdrawing the controversial extradition bill that initially sparked the city's protests in early June, marking a sharp turn after she steadfastly refused to do anything but suspend the motion. Lam made the decision as part of a four-part action plan, which also includes an independent study on the "root cause" of the protests, as well as greater engagement with citizens.

But Lam's final proposal — to "fully support" an investigation into police conduct under an existing independent police complaint council — evades one of the protesters' primary demands for an independent inquiry. What's more, she didn't address other major demands, including amnesty for detainees, a retraction of her definition of the protests as a "riot" and the implementation of universal suffrage — a politically sensitive topic. Ultimately, Hong Kong's protests have escalated so far beyond the initial demand for the permanent withdrawal of the extradition bill that Lam's effort to subdue the demonstrations with her declaration is simply too little, too late. Even if the city manages to escape further escalations and a harsher crackdown, the long-running crisis has deepened scars in the city and widened gaps with China, making further flare-ups likely and jeopardizing Hong Kong's position as Asia's most prominent financial hub.

Yesterday's Concessions 

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