“For a chief executive to have caused this huge havoc to Hong Kong is unforgivable. It’s just unforgivable. If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology, is to step down.”
Those are the words of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, as recorded on tape at a gathering last week and obtained and published on September 2 in a bombshell report by Reuters. At this meeting with city businesspeople, Lam also said:
- There is a “huge degree of fear and anxiety amongst people of Hong Kong vis-a-vis the mainland of China, which we were not sensitive enough to feel and grasp.”
- Her “room for maneuvering is very, very, very limited” because the Hong Kong chief executive “has to serve two masters by constitution” — Beijing, and the people of Hong Kong.
- Beijing is willing to exercise patience. “I can assure you that Beijing does not have a deadline. They know this will ripple on…they and ourselves have no expectations that we could clear up this thing before the 1st of October” — the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Beijing “has absolutely no plan to send in the PLA [People’s Liberation Army],” she added.
This follows a separate report by Reuters last week that even more directly illustrated the lack of promised autonomy for Hong Kong’s government: Lam had “submitted a report to Beijing that assessed protesters’ five key demands and found that withdrawing a contentious extradition bill could help defuse the mounting political crisis in the territory.” But the “Chinese central government rejected Lam’s proposal to withdraw the extradition bill and ordered her not to yield to any of the protesters’ other demands at that time.”
On Monday, Lam responded to the report (per a Reuters video) with “disappointment,” and contradicted her recorded statements about wanting to resign. She confirmed the authenticity of the recording, but said it had violated “Chatham House rules.”
Beijing’s growling dog website Global Times further confirmed the authenticity of Reuters reporting by calling it “fake news.”
Other news from and of Hong Kong
“Singapore’s hotel occupancy rates have climbed to their highest in over a decade as travelers and business events switched from Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protests have slammed tourist numbers and wider business sentiment,” reports Reuters.
“A state-backed disinformation campaign used by China to sow political discord and discredit pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong is more widespread than previously thought, according to a new reportreleased [by] the Australian Strategic Policy Institute,” says Bloomberg via Straits Times. Some of the accounts recently used for spreading misinformation about Hong Kong “date back years and have been used in a series of state-sponsored disinformation operations targeting Beijing’s political opponents, including an exiled billionaire, a human rights lawyer and a bookseller targeted by officials for distributing tales of China’s political elite.”
“Lithuania on Monday summoned China’s ambassador over the involvement of embassy staff in an incident at a rally in Vilnius last month backing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters,” reports Agence France-Presse. “Embassy staff ‘were involved in organizing unlawful actions’ when counter-demonstrators approached the rally, the foreign ministry said.”
“A political activist who was barred from running in elections to Hong Kong’s legislature on political grounds has won an appeal against the administrative decision,” reports Radio Free Asia. “Former 2014 student protest leader Agnes Chow (周庭 Zhōu Tíng), now a member of the political party Demosisto, was disqualified from running in a LegCo by-election in March 2018 because her political views were judged to be pro-independence.”
“The owner of a store selling protective gear to Hong Kong’s anti-government protesters has vowed to continue his business despite his arrest last weekend,” reports the South China Morning Post.
Illustration by SupChina