A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday dodged a question about whether the central government had barred Hong Kong from scrapping the extradition bill.

“The government of … Hong Kong announced on June 15 its decision to suspend debates on amending the corresponding bill. The central Chinese government backed and respected this decision. We have no new information,” Geng Shuang told reporters when asked to comment on the report.

The autonomous city’s leader, Carrie Lam, wrote to Beijing suggesting withdrawing the controversial bill to appease protesters, according to Reuters sources, but the central government rebuffed her proposal.

Thousands of anti-government protesters have rallied in Hong Kong for more than two months against the draft legislation that will allow handing over fugitives to mainland China. Lam called the bill “dead” in July but did not fully withdraw it.

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