Prominent democracy activist and legal scholar Benny Tai, who was sentenced to 16 months in prison for his role in the 2014 Umbrella Movement but was released on bail pending an appeal last month, wrote on Facebook (link in Chinese) that withdrawing the bill is “definitely not enough.” Only gaining full universal suffrage will ensure that “other evil laws do not have to be withdrawn” in the future, he wrote.

The sudden move by Lam may even draw still larger crowds onto the streets, as previous seemingly mistimed moves have done. On June 15, Lam suspended the bill indefinitely after chaotic clashes rocked an area of downtown Hong Kong. Fearing that the government could still bring back the bill, and angry over scenes of police beating unresisting protesters, two million people took to the streets to demand its full withdrawal and an inquiry into police actions. For weeks, Lam has refused on both counts, only saying that “the bill is dead” but stopping short of officially withdrawing it. Protests have continued unabated weekend after weekend, including a particularly chaotic clash in a shopping mall.

The withdrawal announcement comes on the heels of two Reuters reports that appear to show Lam seeking to make more concessions to protesters, but being held back by Beijing. According to a report, Lam had previously suggested to Beijing that the bill be completely withdrawn, but the central government had vetoed this proposal. And in a leaked audio recording published by Reuters this week, Lam said she had caused “unforgivable havoc” in the city, that “political room for maneuvering is very, very, very limited,” and that she would quit—if only she had a choice. Lam did not refute the veracity of the recording, but denied it was an intentional leak from her administration and insisted she never tendered her resignation to Beijing.

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