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'People power victory' in Hong Kong looks more like a tactical retreat

Protesters occupy a street demanding Hong Kong leader to step down after a rally against the now-suspended extradition bill
Protesters occupy a street demanding Hong Kong leader to step down after a rally against the now-suspended extradition bill Credit: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images AsiaPac

Carrie Lam’s apology over the extradition bill would appear to be a victory of democracy and “people power”. People 1: Beijing 0. 

However, it’s worth looking a bit further into why the Hong Kong government apparently backed down in order to understand the wider implications of China’s impact on the city, and by extension the West’s relationship with Hong Kong and China.

There are a number of possible reasons for Lam’s climbdown, which broadly fall into three categories: the democratic victory, external pressure and tactical retreat. In the first instance, it does seem that the government of Hong Kong was completely unprepared for the huge outpouring of dissent. 

While it’s difficult to confirm...

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