Monday 23 September 2019

China throws weight behind Lam as Hong Kong protests

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam. Photo: Vincent Yu/AP
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam. Photo: Vincent Yu/AP

Michael Martina

China yesterday repeated its support for Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam, calling on the city's people to oppose violence following another weekend of clashes between protesters and police.

Hong Kong bore the scars yesterday of its eighth straight weekend of violent protests, with hard hats, umbrellas and water bottles littering some central streets.

Huge crowds have taken to the streets to protest against a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to China to face trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.

The protests have at times paralysed parts of the financial district, shut government offices and disrupted business operations across the city.

Beijing has stood by Ms Lam and the Chinese government's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office - which has cabinet-level authority over the former British colony - reiterated that support.

"The central government firmly supports Carrie Lam leading the Hong Kong government's administration according to law, firmly supports the Hong Kong police strictly enforcing rule of law," said Yang Guang, a spokesman for the office.

"We especially appreciate and empathise with Hong Kong police forces and their families for the huge pressure they are bearing."

He added that the most important thing was for Hong Kong to handle the unrest according to the law. He blamed "irresponsible people" in the West for stirring up trouble in a bid to "contain China's development".

Such efforts would fail, Mr Yang said.

Asked under what conditions the People's Liberation Army (PLA) could intervene, Mr Yang referred to Hong Kong's Basic Law, which states Hong Kong's government can ask the PLA garrison in the city to help maintain order.

He said the government and society needed to find more effective ways to help young people address concerns over housing, employment and other issues.

Irish Independent

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