China has professed its support for embattled chief executive Carrie Lam even as it characterised her government’s handling of the extradition bill revision process as “inadequate” at a rare press conference in Beijing following a weekend of unrest.
Speaking to reporters in the Chinese capital in the first press conference by Beijing’s policy office on Hong Kong since the territory was handed over in 1997, press officers laid out their response to weeks of widespread demonstrations.
“Those horrendous incidents have caused serious damage to rule of law, public order, economy and people’s lives,” China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said in a statement distributed to reporters.
Doubling down on Beijing’s characterisation of the protests so far, a spokeman for the office, Yang Guang, called on “people from all walks of life to oppose and resist violence…and to jointly condemn the evil and criminal acts committed by radical elements”.
While Mr Yang maintained China’s “firm support” for Ms Lam and praised the territory’s police force, Xu Luying, another spokeswoman for the HKMAO, said that the Hong Kong government had “conscientiously reflected” on “inadequacies” in the extradition bill drafting process.
The Central Government “completely approves” of Lam’s work, she said.
The HKMAO appeared to quash speculation that China was open to revisiting the “one country, two systems” framework that is used to govern the former British colony, saying the central government would “continue to unswervingly implement the principle”.
The benchmark Hang Seng index, which had fallen as much as 1.6 per cent on Monday following clashes over the weekend, pared its losses to trade down 1 per cent.
Hong Kong has been rocked by nearly two months of mass demonstrations that initially began over an extradition bill that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, before expanding to cover police brutality, violence by suspected triad gang members, and the Hong Kong government’s handling of the issue.
The Asian financial hub was hit by a third consecutive day of demonstrations on Sunday, with riot police firing tear gas near Beijing’s main representative office in the city, a day after they engaged in some of the fiercest clashes yet seen in Hong Kong’s current political crisis.