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China’s premier says HK bill turmoil damaged whole society

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam speaks to the media in a weekly news briefing after local elections in Hong Kong, China, November 26, 2019.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam speaks to the media in a weekly news briefing after local elections in Hong Kong, China, November 26, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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Ms. Lam is in Beijing for talks with Mr. Li and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s her first visit to Beijing since pro-democracy candidates swept local Hong Kong elections last month in a rebuke of how Ms. Lam has handled months of fiery anti-government protests.

Turmoil over amendments to extradition legislation has damaged Hong Kong society on all fronts, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday during a meeting with the territory’s leader, Carrie Lam.

Ms. Lam is in Beijing for talks with Mr. Li and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s her first visit to Beijing since pro-democracy candidates swept local Hong Kong elections last month in a rebuke of how Ms. Lam has handled months of fiery anti-government protests.

"In the past year, our politics, economy and society have really faced big problems,” Ms. Lam said at her meeting with Mr. Li, who reiterated the central government’s support for her administration.

China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, China in this file photo.

China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, China in this file photo.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

 

The mass demonstrations began in June in response to proposed legislation that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be tried for crimes in mainland China. While Ms. Lam has since withdrawn the bill, protesters have continued calling for broader democratic reforms and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.

Some protesters have increasingly resorted to violence. A lull in clashes ended Sunday evening when protesters threw bricks at police officers, who in turn fired tear gas. According to the authorities, the rioters also set fires, blocked roads and smashed traffic lights with hammers.

Video footage showed truncheon-wielding riot officers squirting pepper spray at a man in a group of journalists and ganging up to beat and manhandle him.

Police guard in front of a bus stop, in Hong Kong on December 9, the morning after hundreds of thousands of demonstrators crammed into Hong Kong’s streets, their chants echoing off high-rises, in a mass show of support for the protest movement entering its seventh month.

Police guard in front of a bus stop, in Hong Kong on December 9, the morning after hundreds of thousands of demonstrators crammed into Hong Kong’s streets, their chants echoing off high-rises, in a mass show of support for the protest movement entering its seventh month.   | Photo Credit: AP

 

The violence and scattered confrontations in shopping malls earlier Sunday, where police also squirted pepper spray and made several arrests, ended what had been a break of a couple of weeks in conflicts between police and protesters.

It has snowballed into a full-blown challenge to the government and Communist leaders in Beijing, with an array of demands, including that Hong Kong’s leader and legislators all be fully elected. A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under a framework that promised the city more democratic freedoms than are allowed on the mainland.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 2:22:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/chinas-premier-says-hk-bill-turmoil-damaged-whole-society/article30317777.ece

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