Hong Kong’s leader apologizes in person for protests and violence

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For the first time, Hong Kong's leader has apologized in person for the chaos and violence of the past week. Massive demonstrations forced her to hold up a controversial extradition bill.

Hong Kong — The leader of Hong Kong has apologized in person for the first time for the chaos and violence of the past week. Massive demonstrations forced her to hold up a controversial bill that would have paved the way for extraditions from the island to the China.

Protesters fear it could allow people accused of crimes in the semi-autonomous Chinese region to be transferred into the mainland’s opaque legal system.

CBS News correspondent Ramy Inocencio reports that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the Beijing-appointed leader of the island, offered her “most sincere apology” and said she was “sad” about the recent mass protests and violence. On Sunday some 2 million people took to the streets in Hong Kong, demanding a complete retraction of the extradition bill.

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Inocencio said Lam’s apology only brought more questions about her ability to carry on in the role.

The idea of losing face — being publicly embarrassed — is a major cultural touchstone in China. The fact that Lam showed her face at all on Tuesday was surprising, said Inocencio, but it appeared to be too little, too late for protesters, who want her to withdrawal the bill and step down.

Asked by CBS News during her news conference whether her decision not to retract the bill might deepen distrust in her among Hong Kong residents, Lam said she would “not proceed again with this legislative exercise if these fears and anxieties cannot be adequately addressed.”

After the news conference, protest organizers said they did not accept her apology, as Lam hasn’t met any of their demands.

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