Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) yesterday said she has never asked the Chinese government to let her resign to end the territory’s political crisis, responding to a Reuters report about a voice recording of her saying she would step down if she could.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets since the middle of June in protests against a now-suspended extradition bill that could see people sent to mainland China for trial in Chinese Communist Party-controlled courts.
Lam told business leaders last week that she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by introducing the extradition bill and that if she had a choice, she would apologize and resign, according to a leaked audio recording.
Lam, a lightning rod for protesters’ anger, told a televised news conference yesterday that she had never considered asking to resign and that Beijing believed her government could solve the three-month long crisis without mainland China’s intervention.
“I have not even contemplated discussing a resignation with the central people’s government. The choice of resigning, it’s my own choice,” Lam said.
“I told myself repeatedly in the last three months that I and my team should stay on to help Hong Kong,” she said.
“That’s why I said that I have not given myself the choice to take an easier path and that is to leave,” she said.
Lam added that she was disappointed that comments made in a private meeting, where she had been sharing the “journey of my heart,” had been leaked.
A spokeswoman for the Chinese central government said it fully supported Lam and the Hong Kong administration to use all lawful means to put an end to violent protests.
Comments on the Reuters story appeared to be censored on mainland Chinese social media, although state media covered Lam’s news conference.
The growing unrest has evolved into a broader call for Hong Kong to be granted greater autonomy by Beijing, which has accused foreign powers, particularly the US and the UK, of fomenting the unrest.
In the audio recording, Lam said that her ability to resolve the crisis was “very, very limited,” as she had to serve “two masters” and the issue had been elevated “to a national level,” a reference to the leadership in Beijing.
However, Lam yesterday said that her government had the confidence of Beijing and could bring an end to unrest itself.
“I think I can lead my team to help Hong Kong to walk out from this dilemma. I still have the confidence to do this,” she said.
“Up till now, the central government still thinks [the Hong Kong] government has the ability to handle this,” she said.
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,
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