The bill, which would have allowed people in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China to face trial, sparked huge and at times violent street protests and plunged the former British colony into turmoil.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks to media over an extradition bill in Hong Kong, China July 9, 2019.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks to media over an extradition bill in Hong Kong, China July 9, 2019. (Reuters)

Hong Kong protest leaders opposed to the administration of Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday that they will continue their demonstrations, even after Lam declared the effort to amend a highly contentious extradition bill "dead."

Lam had earlier said the extradition bill that sparked the territory's biggest political crisis in decades was dead, admitting that the government's work on the bill had been a "total failure".

The bill, which would have allowed people in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China to face trial, sparked huge and at times violent street protests and plunged the former British colony into turmoil.

In mid-June, Lam responded to huge protests by suspending the bill, but on Tuesday she said "there are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity or worries whether the government will restart the process in the legislative council."

"So, I reiterate here, there is no such plan, the bill is dead," she told a news conference.

"We cannot find the word 'dead' in any of the laws in Hong Kong or in any legal proceedings in the Legislative Council," protest leaders Jimmy Sham and Bonnie Leung said in statements in English and Cantonese.

"So how can the government tell us that we should preserve our rule of law, when (Lam) herself does not use the principle of the rule of law," the two said.

The protest leaders also said Lam was being hypocritical in claiming to have met demonstrators' demands without actually speaking to them directly.

"Instead, she should really stand out and talk to the young protesters," Leung said.

"The young protesters have been out in the street outside her house, outside government headquarters, for weeks, roaring to be heard."

Details about future protest actions will be announced at a later time, Leung said.

Demonstrators have also called for Lam to resign, for an independent investigation into police actions against protesters, and for the government to abandon the description of a violent protest on June 12 as a riot.

Hong Kong was returned to China from Britain in 1997 with the promise of a high degree of autonomy, but in recent years there has been growing concern about the erosion of those freedoms at the hands of Beijing.

The crisis over the extradition bill has been the biggest challenge Beijing has faced to its rule in the territory in the 22 years since it re-gained control over Hong Kong.

The planned bill triggered outrage across broad sections of Hong Kong society amid concerns it would threaten the much-cherished rule of law that underpins the city's international financial status.

Lam's appearance on Tuesday was her first since a rare pre-dawn news conference a week ago after protesters besieged and ransacked the legislative building in the heart of the city.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including the right to protest and an independent judiciary.

Lawyers and rights groups say China's justice system is marked by torture, forced confessions and arbitrary detention, claims that Beijing denies. 

Source: Reuters