Hong Kong's chief executive is expected to apologise a second time to protesters for her mishandling of a controversial extradition law that sparked mass demonstrations.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam is set to hold a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, according to the South China Morning Post, after protesters rejected a brief government statement she put out on Sunday following a large-scale march, which organisers said drew nearly two million people.
However, the Beijing-appointed leader is unlikely to unlikely to accept demands to resign or scrap the bill altogether, a source familiar with the situation told the Hong Kong newspaper.
Lam announced on Saturday that the bill would be suspended, in an apparent bid to quell further unrest and mass demonstrations.
In a private meeting with a group of educators on Monday, Lam said her decision to suspend the contentious bill meant 'total withdrawal', and her government would not propose the legal amendments again, RTHK reported. It is unclear if she would make a similar commitment to the public.
Opponents of the extradition bill say that it might be used to send critics of Communist Party rule to the mainland to face vague political charges, possible torture and unfair trials.
It is also seen as one of many steps chipping away at Hong Kong's freedoms and legal autonomy.
Many Hong Kong residents also were angered over the police use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other forceful measures as demonstrators broke through barricades outside the city government's headquarters during demonstrations on Wednesday, and over Lam's decision to call the clashes a riot.
'It will take a long time for Lam to rebuild her connections with society. It can be done, but it will take time,' the source told South China Morning Post.
Hong Kong's government headquarters reopened on Tuesday morning as the number of protesters gathered outside dwindled to a few dozen.
Late Monday, police commissioner Stephen Lo held a news conference where he sought to defuse anger over aggressive police tactics during protests last week. He said only five of 15 people arrested during the clashes were charged with rioting.
For the many teens and 20-somethings who took to the streets, the protests are about far more than an extradition bill.
They are about preserving the autonomy Hong Kong was promised when Britain ceded its colony to mainland China in 1997, a 'one-country, two-systems' arrangement that was supposed to assure Hong Kong separate legal and economic status for 50 years after the handover.
The marchers have drawn inspiration from earlier protests, especially the 'Umbrella Movement' of 2014, when tens of thousands of mostly youthful demonstrators staged marches and sit-ins, snarling downtown traffic for weeks to demand a say in the election of Hong Kong's leader - a demand that ultimately failed.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.