Too little, too late from Carrie Lam

Domestic News

Photo credit: SupChina illustration


Only hours after we sent our last Weekly Briefing, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥 Lín Zhèng Yuè’é) finally announced that she would withdraw the controversial extradition bill that sparked mass protests in the city nearly three months ago.

Unfortunately for Lam, the protesters months ago coalesced around five key demands, four of which remain unanswered:

  1. To withdraw the extradition bill
  2. To stop labeling protesters as “rioters”
  3. To drop charges against protesters
  4. To conduct an independent inquiry into police behavior
  5. To implement free elections for a chief executive

According to the South China Morning Post, after the bill withdrawal, “LIHKG, a Reddit-like site which has been the de facto virtual command centre of the protest movement, was flooded with messages [in Chinese] saying: ‘Five key demands, not one less’ [五大訴求,缺一不可 wǔ dà sùqiú, quē yī bùkě].”

Nobody expects the government to actually address all key demands. But even the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, a core demand that brought millions to the streets three months ago, was panned by activists like Joshua Wong (黃之鋒 Huáng Zhīfēng) as “too little and too late.”


SupChina Access members got an exclusive opportunity to talk with one of the most perceptive observers of protests in Hong Kong over the last two decades, lawyer and author Antony Dapiran, in a Slack Q&A last week. He suggested that we all look out for three dates that could be flashpoints in the sure-to-be-ongoing protests:

  • September 28 — anniversary of the start of the Umbrella Movement
  • October 1 — National Day
  • November 24 — district council election

If the elections “result in pan-dem candidates making big gains, that may be enough for the people to feel that their efforts on the street have converted into some kind of tangible outcome in the formal political system.” But a “new normal” of ongoing protests and unrest is just as likely an outcome, and in Dapiran’s view is “the most likely one.”