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The Latest: Activists say shelving bill is not enough

HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on protests in Hong Kong against an extradition bill (all times local): 7:30 p.m. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman has expressed support for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam after she shelved an unpopular bill backed by Beijing.

Geng Shuang said Saturday that the Chinese government "expresses support, respect and understanding" for Lam's decision. As Hong Kong's highest-ranking local official, Lam suspended the legislation indefinitely after massive protests.

Activists have demanded she withdraw it entirely, apologize and step down. They plan another big protest for Sunday. Geng said Hong Kong residents still enjoyed "rights and freedoms" guaranteed when Beijing took control of the former British colony in 1997.

His also said: "Maintaining Hong Kong's prosperity and stability is not only in China's interest, but also in the interests of all countries in the world."

6:15 p.m.

Hong Kong activists say they're not satisfied with a decision to shelve unpopular extradition legislation and still plan a mass protest on Sunday.

A leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, Jimmy Sham, called on Chief Executive Carrie Lam to withdraw the bill entirely and to apologize for the use of potentially deadly force by police in clashes earlier this week.

Lam defended the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other measures by police as necessary and said she wanted no more violence.

She said she would not withdraw the bill, asking for another chance to convince the public it was needed. But she set no deadline.

5:25 p.m.

Hong Kong's leader has said Taiwan's insistence that it would not allow a suspect in the slaying of a Hong Kong woman to be extradited helped in her decision to withdraw a bill that sparked mass protests in the former British colony.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Saturday that the loophole in Hong Kong's laws still needs to be fixed but "the original urgency is perhaps no longer there."

Lam said she was in part driven to push for the unpopular legislation out of sympathy for the family of the woman who was killed. The government has sought to extradite the suspect, Chan Tong-kei, but Taiwan's government said it would not hand him over even if the law is changed.

Lam suspended the legislation indefinitely, citing the need for calm.

3:20 p.m.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she will suspend a proposed extradition bill indefinitely.

Lam told media Saturday she took the move in response to widespread public unhappiness over the measure, which would enable authorities to send some suspects to stand trial in mainland courts.

Many in the former British colony worry it will further erode cherished legal protections and freedoms promised by Beijing when it took control in 1997.

A mass protest over the issue was planned for Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents took to the streets in earlier demonstrations. Protests turned violent on Wednesday, adding to pressures on Lam to back down.

1:15 p.m.

The Hong Kong government says Chief Executive Carrie Lam will hold a news conference at 3 p.m. local time.

Local media reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources, that Lam plans to announce she is suspending a proposed extradition bill that is unpopular with many Hong Kong residents.

Government officials have not confirmed that, though many lawmakers and others involved say it's likely.

The legislation would enable authorities to send some suspects to stand trial in mainland courts. Many in the former British colony fear it might further erode legal protections and freedoms promised when Beijing took control of the territory in 1997.

Critics of the bill have urged Lam to withdraw it altogether, and to step down from her post as the top local official.

11:30 a.m.

Hong Kong's chief executive was to meet with her Executive Council as pressure mounts for her to delay or withdraw an unpopular extradition bill.

Carrie Lam, who was appointed by Beijing, was expected to speak with media later Saturday. TV networks showed lawmakers headed by car into a government compound.

Some Executive Council members have urged Lam to suspend debate on the bill, which would allow Hong Kong suspects to be tried in mainland China.

Another mass protest is expected Sunday after clashes turned violent on Wednesday, leaving about 80 people injured including 22 police officers.

10 a.m.

Pressure on Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam has been mounting, with signs emerging that she may delay an unpopular extradition bill that has drawn hundreds of thousands of people into the streets in protest.

Reports say Lam is expected to make an announcement Saturday after talks that continued late into Friday night. Another mass protest is expected Sunday.

The pressure on Lam to withdraw the bill is intense, with many protesters demanding she quit. The Beijing-appointed leader of the former British colony is caught between a public anxious to protect civil liberties and legal protections guaranteed when control of the territory was handed to China in 1997, and her Communist Party bosses.

Protests died down late in the week after clashes with police that turned violent on Wednesday.

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