Hong Kong leader promises dialogue to help end protests

21 Août, 2019, 03:22 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Hong Kong leader promises dialogue to help end protests

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through the heart of the city on Sunday in a show of peaceful protest after escalating street battles with police drew stark warnings from Beijing and threatened to undermine public support.

People in Hong Kong have been rallying against a bill that would allow the transfer of suspects to mainland China to face trial.

Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday said she hoped "calm" will prevail after a massive weekend march passed without clashes between police and demonstrators, but again refused to give ground to protester demands.

Aside from Lam's resignation, the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, and the conduct of an independent inquiry, the protesters are also asking Lam to stop describing the protests as "rioting", and for her to issue a waiver of charges against those who were arrested. Protesters say Lam has not responded to demands, which include democracy, her resignation and an enquiry into the use of police force.

"This is something that we want to do, in a very honest and humble manner", she said, saying her administration is "committed to listen to what the people have to tell us".

More protests are planned in the upcoming days, including one by MTR subway workers on Wednesday, secondary school students on Thursday, and accountants on Friday.

She also says there are no plans to revive the extradition bill that triggered the upheaval.

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Police have been criticised for using increasingly aggressive tactics to break up demonstrations, although there was a minimal police presence on Sunday and no arrests were made.

The unrest has been fuelled by broader worries about the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" formula put in place after Hong Kong's return to China in 1997, including an independent judiciary and the right to protest. More than 700 people have been arrested since June.

Lam said the police watchdog had formed a task force to probe complaints.

The unrest has impacted the economy of Hong Kong, a financial hub in Asia, and Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury James Lau has said that the likelihood of recession - the first in a decade - is "quite considerable".

Meanwhile, Lam warned of the risk of pressure on the Hong Kong economy which shrank 0.4 percent in the April-June quarter from the previous quarter.

"The fact is that Carrie Lam doesn't see Hong Kong citizens as stakeholders in society, so what do we expect to talk about on the platform for dialogue?" "Actually, I think the data in the first half has not fully reflected the seriousness of the problem", she said. CEO Rupert Hogg quit in a shock move last week after Beijing targeted the airline over staff involvement in the protests.

China's State Council called on Monday for greater development of Shenzhen and integration of its culture and economy with neighbouring Hong Kong and Macau, a former Portuguese-run enclave that returned to China in 1999.

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