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Asia

Hong Kong protest movement lives on, even if extradition bill 'dead'

media Protestors massed in Hong Kong last weekend. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Hong Kong's embattled pro-Beijing leader on Tuesday said an extradition bill that sparked unprecedented political unrest "is dead". Protesters have dismissed her comments, threatening more mass rallies.

The international finance hub has been plunged into its worst crisis in recent history by a month of marches and sporadic violent confrontations between police and protesters.

The rallies were sparked by a draft law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. But they have changed into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory.

Police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets while the parliament has been trashed by protesters -- as Beijing's authority faces its most serious challenge since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997.

On Tuesday the city's chief executive Carrie Lam admitted her administration's attempt to introduce the bill was a "complete failure", saying that her government would not seek to reactivate it in parliament.

"There is no such plan. The bill is dead," Lam said.

But she once against refused to buckle to demands to completely withdraw the bill from the legislative agenda, provoking outcry from the anti-government camp.

Lam's words about the bill are "another ridiculous lie" tweeted leading democracy activist Joshua Wong, who was recently released from jail for his role in protests in 2014.

"The bill still exists in the 'legislative programme' until July next year."

The Civil Human Rights Front -- which has organised some of the mass rallies -- said it would announce fresh protests over the coming days.

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