Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that the central government fully supports Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s proposed “next step,” according to state media, though neither leader revealed details about the plan.
Xi met a delegation of top Hong Kong officials in Macau on Thursday while celebrating 20 years since the handover of the former-Portuguese colony to Chinese rule. It was the second meeting between the two leaders in a week after Lam flew out to Beijing last Friday for her annual duty visit.
Hong Kong has been shaken by seven months of mass protests calling for democratic reform and accountability for the police’s handling of the unrest, among other demands.
According to Chinese state-run Xinhua, Xi said at the meeting that the central government fully affirms Lam’s “courage and sense of responsibility” during Hong Kong’s political crisis. He added that Beijing “fully supports” the Hong Kong government’s next phase of action, proposed by Lam during the visit.
Xinhua’s report did not elaborate on what the action plan was. Hong Kong TV network i-Cable cited sources as saying that the plan does not include legislating a controversial national security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law. A 2003 attempt to introduce the bill was met with mass protests, prompting the Hong Kong government to axe the proposal.
The report said that Xi hoped that, under the leadership of the chief executive, Hong Kong government bureaus and departments would “do their duty and work with each other” to deal with local matters.
Posted by 人民日報 on Thursday, 19 December 2019
Lam reportedly thanked Xi for meeting with her and said she would lead her administration in stopping violence in Hong Kong, in order to restore calm as soon as possible.
Xi also asked Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng about her wrist, which she fractured in a fall at a protest in London last month.
“It’s better, thank you for your concern. Just like Hong Kong, it will definitely recover,” Cheng said, according to a clip released by the Hong Kong government.
Meanwhile, at a televised banquet hosted by the Macau government on Thursday night, Lam’s husband Lam Siu-por was seen not clapping along to the patriotic song Ode to the Motherland. Others including Lam and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi were seen clapping in unison.
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