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Hong Kong Leader Hails Peaceful March as Reset of Political Crisis

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam pauses during a press conference in Hong Kong Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. Lam said she’s setting up a “communication platform” to resolve differences in the Chinese city.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam says she hopes Sunday's peaceful march through the streets of the Chinese territory marks a turning point in the nearly two month anti-government protests.

The protests began over a proposed extradition bill that would have sent suspected criminals to mainland China, but escalated into violence and plunged Hong Kong into its biggest political crisis since Britain returned control to Beijing in 1997.

Demonstrators have put forth a list of demands, among them a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, an independent probe into allegations of police brutality during the protests, exoneration for the more than 700 people arrested during the demonstrations, the long-stated goal of direct elections of the city's leader, and Lam's resignation.

Lam told reporters Tuesday that Hong Kong's police force will launch an internal probe into the 174 complaints of excessive force by police, including complaints of tear gas and rubber bullets fired at protesters. She also stopped short of formally withdrawing the controversial extradition bill as demanded by the protesters, saying simply the matter was "dead."

Fears are growing in Hong Kong that the city is steadily losing its autonomy to China, promised until 2047 under the handover agreement with Britain. Citizens are currently protected by the Basic Law, a set of civil and political rights considered Hong Kong’s mini constitution.