Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said that China "understands, respects and supports" her government's move to formally withdraw an extradition bill, which she hopes will help the city to "move forward" following months of unrest.

Ms Lam said it is not correct to describe the withdrawal of the bill as a "change of mind", and that the decision was made with Beijing's backing.

"Throughout the whole process, the Central People's government took the position that they understood why we have to do it," Ms Lam said in a televised address.

"They respect my view, and they support me all the way."

The controversial bill, which would have allowed for Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China for trial, has plunged the territory into its worst political crisis in decades.

The bill’s withdrawal was one of five demands by pro-democracy protesters, although many demonstrators and lawmakers said the move was too little, too late.

The other four demands are: retraction of the word "riot" to describe rallies, the release of all demonstrators, an independent inquiry into perceived police brutality, and the right for Hong Kong people to choose their own leaders.

Demonstrators were still calling for all demands to be met, with many placing emphasis on the independent inquiry.

Ms Lam said that the independent police complaints council was credible enough to address the probe.

In her address, Ms Lam also announced other measures, including opening a platform for dialogue with society to try to address economic, social and political problems.


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Scuffles broke out in some districts following her announcement, including the working class Po Lam, while police say a suspected petrol bomb was thrown at a luxury property in the Kowloon district.

More than 1,100 people have been arrested since the violence escalated in June, and Hong Kong is facing its first recession in a decade.

China has strongly denounced the violence and warned it could use force to restore order.

Further protests are planned including on Saturday another "stress test" at the airport, which was targeted by protesters on Sunday leading to clashes with police on approach roads and in the nearby new town of Tung Chung.

The official China Daily said the withdrawal of the bill was an olive branch that leaves demonstrators with no excuse to continue the violence.

Ms Lam leaves for China's Guangxi province this afternoon.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" administration which gave the city of more than seven million people more freedoms than mainland cities, such as an independent judiciary - prompting the anger over the extradition bill.

The protests are the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping's rule since he took power in 2012.