“I will actively reach out to young people of different backgrounds through various channels to listen to their thoughts,” Lam promised, as she gave a speech inside the city’s exhibition center, which was protected by massive barricades and a large security presence.
Outside, hundreds of the city’s young people clashed with police, the latest in a series of protests in recent weeks over Lam’s now-shelved attempt to pass a law that would allow extradition to China.
Critics fear the bill could be used to seize government critics and send them across the border to face trial in a system with a 99% conviction rate and a history of political prosecutions.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets Monday afternoon for the city’s annual July 1 pro-democracy march. Protesters called for the bill to be formally withdrawn rather than suspended, Lam to resign and an independent investigation to be held into police violence against protesters on June 12.
But there are limits to ordinary people’s willingness to continue to march for a cause which, in effect, they’ve already won. Lam has suspended the bill, which will end when the city’s legislature’s current term finished at the end of the month.
The pragmatism, or conservatism, of those people stands in stark contrast to the attitude of the mainly college-age protesters who have taken to the streets regularly throughout June.