NEW YORK TIMES — Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong, has a very loyal majority in the territory's legislature.

She has the complete backing of the Chinese Government. She has a huge bureaucracy ready to push her agenda.

Yet yesterday, she was forced to suspend indefinitely her months-long effort to win passage of a bill that would have allowed her government to extradite criminal suspects to mainland China, Taiwan and elsewhere.

Lam's decision represented the biggest single retreat on a political issue by China since Xi Jinping became the country's top leader in 2012.

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Huge crowds of demonstrators had