Violence in Hong Kong’s protests is becoming more serious, but the government is confident that it can handle the crisis itself, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) said yesterday.
Lam was speaking in public for the first time since demonstrations escalated on Sunday, when police fired water cannons and volleys of tear gas in running battles with protesters who threw bricks and gasoline bombs.
The territory is grappling with its biggest political crisis since its handover to Beijing in 1997 and Chinese Communist Party authorities have sent a clear warning that forceful intervention is possible to quell the violence.
Hong Kong’s leader said that she would not give up on building a platform for dialogue, although the time was not right to set up an independent inquiry into the crisis, one of the cornerstone demands of protesters.
“We should prepare for reconciliation in society by communicating with different people... We want to put an end to the chaotic situation in Hong Kong,” Lam said, adding that she did not believe her government had lost control.
More demonstrations are planned over the coming days and weeks, posing a direct challenge to authorities in Beijing, who are eager to quell the unrest ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1.
The demonstrations have evolved over 12 straight weeks into a broad demand for greater democracy under the “one country, two systems” formula.
Authorities have so far refused to meet any of the protesters’ five key demands: withdraw the extradition bill, set up an independent inquiry into the protests and perceived police brutality, stop describing the protests as “rioting,” waive charges against those arrested, and resume political reform.
The government on Monday said that illegal violence was pushing Hong Kong to the brink of great danger
The protests come as Hong Kong is facing its first recession in a decade, with all its growth pillars under significant stress.
Rating agencies have raised long-term questions over the quality of the territory’s governance.
The unrest has sent jitters across the Asian financial center, prompting some Hong Kong tycoons to start moving personal wealth offshore and residents to look for homes elsewhere.
Jamie Mi, partner at Kay and Burton in Melbourne, said that the real-estate agency was receiving about one-third more enquiries from Hong Kong buyers than usual, with most buyers targeting high-end properties priced above A$5 million (US$3.38 million).
Juwai.com, China’s largest property Web site, saw a 50 percent rise in Hong Kong enquiries for Australian properties in the past quarter.
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,