Protesters occupy a main road and walkways during a rally against a proposed extradition law in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019.

Paul Yeung | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Hong Kong government is set to suspend a contentious proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China after mass protests and street clashes shook the Asian financial hub in the past week, local media reported on Saturday.

The proposed bill, calling for Hong Kong to make legal amendments to allow accused criminals to be extradited to jurisdictions with which it has no such arrangement — including China — has led to widespread opposition in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory of 7.4 million people.

Public service broadcaster RTHK cited an unidentified source as saying the the government has decided to “suspend” the plan. The South China Morning Post carried a similar report that a pause was likely to be decided as early as Saturday.

RTHK said that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the territory’s top official, would meet Saturday with pro-government legislators before holding a press briefing.

Shirley Lee, a government spokesperson, could not confirm the reports when contacted by CNBC for comment.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in protest on June 9 and another mass rally has been planned for Sunday.

On Wednesday police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who gathered near the local legislature where lawmakers were supposed to debate the plan with scores suffering injuries.

Lam, the territory’s top official, has been defiant, vowing that the plan must proceed and condemning Wednesday’s demonstrations.

Hong Kong has for nearly 22 years been a semi-autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China with its own legal system and currency — legacies of its time as a British colony.

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While the territory was guaranteed a high degree of control over its own affairs for at least 50 years under a “one country, two systems arrangement” after Britain ceded sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997, local unease over increasing mainland influence has steadily grown.

Foreign business groups and governments have come out against the plan amid concerns that any erosion to Hong Kong’s legal system could make it a less attractive place for banks and companies to operate.

It is not clear whether a delay in the plan would satisfy opponents, who have demanded it be scrapped and that Lam resign.

— CNBC’s Vivian Kam contributed to this report.



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