Billy Beck passes on a story from the South China Morning Post:

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has formally withdrawn the much-despised extradition bill that sparked the nearly three-month long protest crisis now roiling the city, confirming the Post’s exclusive report earlier on Wednesday.

She will also set up an investigative platform to look into the fundamental causes of the social unrest and suggest solutions for the way forward, stopping short of turning it into a full-fledged commission of inquiry, as demanded by protesters.

First off, the cause of the protests is the increasingly tyrannical ChiComms. Lam isn’t stupid, she knows that. She also knows, however, that her life expectancy drops to about 10 minutes if she ever mentions that truth.

Hong Kong protesters waving American flags

The speculation that I’ve seen from several sources including Gordon Chang is that her strings were getting pulled by Beijing, which is why she didn’t withdraw the bill before now.

If that’s true, it would seem to make sense that the withdrawal is also being ordered by the Chinese as well. There’s no question that she is trying to cut a middle path between what the Chinese government wants and what the protesters want. Equally clear, however, is the idea that she wouldn’t dare make such a move absent at least the grudging permission of the Chinese.

If that’s true, this would seem to suggest at least a temporary capitulation on the part of the Chinese. That, in turn, would seem to suggest that the multiple pressure points being applied to the Chinese government are hurting them worse than advertised… Tarrif driven financial pressure being applied not least among them.

China has perhaps begun to realize that their efforts to project power on a worldwide basis it’s going to be impossible to support if they can’t keep their vassal states such as North Korea and Hong Kong in line.

At the same time however is an image problem in the rest of the world. The Chinese are currently working to expand their influence in Africa, for example.

The ChiComms know the world is watching the developments in Hong Kong very closely. If the Chinese go all Tiananmen square on Hong Kong, all deals are off, and they know it.

I forgot who it was who first said it, but the Chinese find themselves in a situation where there is only one of two responses that they can make to all of this. They can either go all Tiananmen square, or all Gorbachev. Go totally in either of those two directions, and somebody’s going to remember Xi is only President for life.

I’m looking to see the Chinese trying to cut a middle path between those two, and failing miserably.