China doubled down on its support for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam yesterday after days of protests in the Chinese-ruled city over a planned extradition bill, and a source close to Lam said Beijing was unlikely to let her go even if she tried to resign.
Lam’s attempts to pass a bill that would allow people in Hong Kong to be extradited to China to stand trial triggered the biggest and most violent protests in the former British colony in decades.
As the political crisis entered its second week, demonstrators and opposition politicians braved intermittent rain to gather near the government’s offices and call for the bill to be killed and for her to step down.
The upheaval comes at a delicate time for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is grappling with a deepening US trade war, an ebbing economy and regional strategic tension.
“The Chinese government, the central government, has always fully affirmed the work of chief executive Carrie Lam and the Hong Kong government,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a news conference.
In a coincidence of timing, Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, the face of the city’s push for full democracy, walked free from prison yesterday and vowed to join the mass protest movement.
“I will join to fight against this evil law,” said Wong, 22, one of the leaders of the 2014 “Umbrella” pro-democracy protests that blocked major roads in Hong Kong for 79 days.
“I believe this is the time for her, Carrie Lam the liar, to step down.”
Yesterday, protesters near the government’s offices blocked roads and called for Lam to withdraw the bill, release arrested students, drop the official description of a rally on Wednesday that involved clashes with the police as a riot, and step down.