Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Pledges New Effort at Dialogue Over Protests

Cheryl Sanders
August 21, 2019

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she hoped a peaceful weekend anti-government protest was the start of efforts to restore calm and that talks with non-violent protesters would provide "a way out" for the Chinese-ruled city.

Lam said the scope of IPCC's review would now be extended to all mass protests beginning June 9 as it was uncertain when the turmoil was going to end.

"I think it is a very honest expression for my hope to sincerely dialogue with various sectors of the society", she added. She hoped dialogues could facilitate mutual understanding and respect in a now-divided society, and help the city recover from protracted chaos.

Hong Kong's leader says she's setting up a "communication platform" to resolve differences in the city after months of anti-government protests.

The group's vice-convenor Wong Yik-mo said Lam is "not responding at all" to the protest movement's demands, including genuine democracy, her resignation and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.

A raft of measures with total government spending of 19.1 billion Hong Kong dollars (2.43 billion US dollars) have been rolled out to support growth and relieve the burden on businesses and individuals.

Facebook took similar action, but on a smaller scale.

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

Sunday's massive turnout, which organisers put at 1.7 million, showed that the movement still has widespread support despite chaotic scenes last week when protesters occupied the airport. "There is no plan to revive this bill, especially in light of the public concerns".

Although Lam's announcement is likely an attempt to dilute the protest movement by offering some concessions, her latest offer falls short of the protesters' five key demands, including a call for an independent inquiry of police conduct during demonstrations.

Some of the protests have turned violent and resulted in clashes between police and protesters, with officers resorting to using tear gas, rubber bullets and other tactics, and crowds countering by throwing bricks, bamboo sticks and gasoline bombs.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam also said the city's police watchdog will carry out a fact-finding study of the protests and related incidents as it looks into 174 complaints about police behavior. More than 700 people have been arrested since June.

Japan's top diplomat has told his Chinese counterpart that Japan is "deeply concerned" about the continuing protests in Hong Kong.

Kono said he also told Wang that it is important that Hong Kong stay free and open and continue its prosperity under the "one country, two systems" framework.

China has put strong pressure on big companies, especially Cathay Pacific Airways.

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