HONG KONG — When Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said on Saturday that she was suspending an unpopular bill to allow extraditions to mainland China, she expressed hope that her action would restore peace and order in the city, which has been convulsed by demonstrations.
But for most of the bill’s opponents, Mrs. Lam’s promise to indefinitely postpone the legislation was insufficient, signaling that the fight was not over for the embattled leader and foreshadowing more upheaval in the semiautonomous territory, where many still fear the bill could extend China’s reach.
Even as Mrs. Lam spoke on Saturday, new calls were being issued for a peaceful demonstration on Sunday. The previous Sunday, more than a million people, according to protest leaders, from the young to the old, filled up Hong Kong’s streets in one of the city’s largest demonstrations ever.
“The Civil Human Rights Front is very disappointed and angry about what she has said, because we demanded the withdrawal of the bill, not a suspension,” said Bonnie Leung, the spokeswoman for the rights group.
“If Carrie Lam and the government were willing to listen to the Hong Kong people’s voice,” Ms. Leung added, “she would have done so after one million people took to the streets.”
In a park outside the government building where Mrs. Lam made her announcement, dozens of police officers gathered in clusters, some in uniforms and others in plainclothes and black police vests.
Metal barriers blocked the main entrances to the Legislative Council office, where some demonstrators tried to break in after protests turned violent on Wednesday. A few young artists roamed the area with sketchbooks and pens in hand, hoping to capture scenes of protest.
“I think she is just delaying everything,” Chan Wing Sze, a 29-year-old visual artist, said of Mrs. Lam’s announcement.
Several dozen protesters gathered on a pedestrian bridge near government buildings, singing hymns and sitting on the ground in a group prayer. A line of more than a dozen police officers watched them from behind metal barriers at the center of the bridge.
The bridge’s V-shape pillars were plastered with posters condemning the extradition bill, as well as police violence. Scrawled messages urged attendance at a street rally that the Civic Human Rights Front convened for Sunday and participation in citywide strikes planned for Monday.
“Anti-extradition bill: be a gentle Hong Konger,” one sign read. A few boxes filled with biscuits, bottled water and wet wipes were neatly stacked by one pillar, with a sign telling protesters to help themselves. Supporters, including children, taped messages and drawings of support onto the pillars and the ground.
Groups like the Civil Human Rights Front are calling on Mrs. Lam to apologize for the police’s actions on Wednesday, when they fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who tried to encircle and then storm the Legislative Council offices. The police have said 81 people were injured in the clashes.
The extradition bill was first put forward by Mrs. Lam’s government in February, after a request from the family of a woman who was murdered, allegedly by her boyfriend, while they were in Taiwan. He remains in Hong Kong, which does not have an extradition treaty with Taiwan. Mrs. Lam spoke of her concern for the victim’s family, which some opponents criticized as disingenuous.
“Taiwan has already said it would not cooperate, so the initial need for the bill is no longer here,” said Candice Lee, a 38-year-old social worker.
“The government’s persistence created a serious clash and division in society, so I think it’s not a question on whether or not to suspend. It should be completely withdrawn,” Ms. Lee said. She and her husband marched a week ago, together with their two sons, Woody, 8, and Derek, 4. The couple planned to attend the march on Sunday, too.
On Saturday, Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s foreign minister, said in a message on Twitter that he was “deeply upset by the assault on freedom and human rights in Hong Kong.”
While Mrs. Lam said her government did not intend to set a new deadline for the bill, she also said it would not withdraw it. She added that the original objectives of the bill were “very well intended,” including fixing what she described as loopholes in Hong Kong’s legal system.
But critics have warned that the bill, if signed into law, would break down a critical firewall between the legal systems in mainland China and Hong Kong — which was handed over to Beijing by the British in 1997 but has been given a high degree of autonomy.
“Where is the victory?” said Lam Wing Kee, a former bookseller who left for Taiwan in April out of fear he could be sent to mainland China under the proposed extradition law.
“It is not withdrawn. Where is the victory? It is up to them when to resume it,” Mr. Lam said by phone from Taipei.
Jeffrey Chan, a 19-year-old student, said he intended to go to the protest on Sunday. “I hope the government will directly withdraw this law, and not push ahead with it at any later time,” Mr. Chan said.
Not everyone in Hong Kong, however, was dismayed with Mrs. Lam’s actions. Starry Lee, a pro-establishment lawmaker of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said that she understood and supported the suspension of the bill.
“We strongly condemn people who disturb the social order, and we respect and support the police to maintain the social order and protect the safety of people,” Ms. Lee said.
The Chinese government said it expressed its “support, respect, and understanding” of the Hong Kong government’s decision, adding that it would “continue to firmly support” Mrs. Lam.
Johnnie Sheng, a young Taiwanese man, said he had traveled to Hong Kong for this Sunday’s march because the stakes of the bill extended beyond the city.
“What happens here, after a year or maybe two, will happen in Taiwan,” he said, referring to concerns that China might encroach on the island’s legal system somehow. “People say it is not my business, but we’re near China, and this could happen in Taiwan.”