Chinese officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs are working on an urgent strategy to solve the territory’s political chaos and have ruled out the use of military force, the South China Morning Post reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the discussions.
They are soon to present top leaders in Beijing with both an immediate plan to handle the mass protests and a longer-term strategy that could result in China overhauling its management of the former British colony, the newspaper said, without elaborating on a date.
Beijing maintains that the crisis is best left for Hong Kong authorities to resolve and does not want to get directly involved, the report said.
Beijing has expressed public support for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) throughout weeks of unrest and political gridlock, saying this week that it “firmly supports” her leadership.
Lam on Monday vowed to remain in office, after a Financial Times report said that she had offered to resign, but that Beijing insisted she stay and clean up “the mess she created.”
Chinese officials also see Hong Kong’s police force as key to maintaining stability, the newspaper said.
Officers’ tactics have come under fire after they used tear gas, rubber bullets, batons and pepper spray to disperse the protesters.
Demonstrators have demanded an independent investigation into what they deem a use of excessive force, while opposition lawmakers have called for the resignation of Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee (李家超).
Chinese officials want to avoid bloodshed and ensure that the financial hub remains largely stable, the newspaper reported, citing the people.
China’s approach would be to “lure the snake from its hole,” one adviser was cited as saying, taking a defensive position until the opposition reveals its strategy.
The officials are also considering whether the current environment makes it too risky for Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to visit Macau later this year for 20th anniversary celebrations of its return to Chinese rule, the paper reported.
Crowds of Hong Kong protesters have turned out in unprecedented sizes every week since the middle of last month. In recent gatherings, their anger has focused on China.
More protests are being planned in neighborhoods across the territory by demonstrators vowing to spread the word until Lam responds to their demands, including the official withdrawal of legislation that would allow extraditions to the mainland that first sparked the rallies.
There are indications that Xi and his top officials are preparing for their annual summer conclave in the Beidaihe District of port city Qinhuangdao, which this year would bear even closer watching than usual as China faces growing risks at home and abroad, including Hong Kong’s unrest and an ongoing trade dispute with the US.
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