Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam rules out protest concessions ahead of Beijing visit

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday refused to accept protesters’ demands further to the extradition bill’s withdrawal ahead of her weekend visit to Beijing. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2019

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam rules out protest concessions ahead of Beijing visit

  • In a rare lull in police-protester clashes, around 800,000 people marched peacefully through the city’s streets Sunday
  • ‘How can we completely ignore the rule of law just to fulfill the demands’

HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday ruled out further concessions to the city’s pro-democracy movement ahead of her weekend visit to Beijing, despite a landslide election defeat for the government and a peaceful mass march.
The movement, which marked its six-month anniversary on Monday, was initially sparked by a now-abandoned attempt to allow extraditions to mainland China but has since morphed into a popular revolt against Beijing’s rule.
In a rare lull in police-protester clashes, around 800,000 people marched peacefully through the city’s streets Sunday, urging the government to respond to their five demands — which include an independent inquiry into the police, an amnesty for those arrested, and fully free elections.
An end to violence is something the city’s pro-Beijing leadership has insisted must be a precursor to meaningful dialogue — but in her weekly press conference on Tuesday, Lam refused to accept protesters’ demands further to the extradition bill’s withdrawal.
“If a particular demand requires us to deviate from the law... I could not agree to accept those demands simply for the purpose of reaching people’s aspirations.”
Lam argued that an amnesty for those arrested — more than 6,000 people since June, 40 percent of them students — would violate the spirit of the rule of law.
“How can we completely ignore the rule of law just to fulfill the demands ... So we have no way to make the response, but we are still willing to examine the social problems reflected by this incident in hope of relieving residents’ grievance,” she added.
Lam said would give a “full account” of what has happened in the city when she goes to Beijing on Saturday for her regular duty visit, which typically involves a meeting with President Xi Jinping.
In late November, the city’s pro-democracy camp won a landslide victory in local elections, which critics described as a referendum for the movement, but Lam and her government remained unrattled.
The movement has upended the semi-autonomous Chinese hub’s reputation for stability and blanketed its streets with unprecedented scenes of political violence.
Despite a lull in clashes in the past two weeks, tension bubbled under the surface as police defused two improvised mail bombs discovered near a school and seized firearms including a pistol during overnight raids.


Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

Updated 29 min 53 sec ago

Global civil unrest and violence in quarter of countries in 2019, expected to rise in 2020: Report

  • Identified Sudan as most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world
  • According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile

LONDON: Nearly a quarter of the world’s nations witnessed a rise in unrest and violence in 2019 with the figure expected to rise in 2020, according to a study released earlier this week.

Verisk Maplecroft, a socio-economic and political analysis company, said in its index of global civil unrest that 47 of the world’s 195 countries were affected and that the number could hit 75 in the year ahead.

The UK-based consultancy firm identified Sudan as the most troubled and “extreme risk” country in the world, which had previously been held by Yemen.

According to the report, 2019’s biggest flashpoint locations were Hong Kong and Chile and neither is expected to be “at peace” for at least two years its researchers claim.

“The reasons for the surge in violent unrest are complex and diverse. In Hong Kong, protests erupted in June 2019 over a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, However, the root cause of discontent has been the rollback of civil and political rights since 1997,” the firm said.

“In Chile, protests have been driven by income inequality and high living costs but were triggered by a seemingly trivial 30-peso (USD0.04) increase in the price of metro tickets,” it added.

Other countries now considered hotbeds unrest include Lebanon, Nigeria and Bolivia. Asia and Africa are disproportionately represented with countries such as Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe also coming under the “extreme risk” label.

Since authoritarian leader Omar Al-Bashir was overthrown in April, Sudan was gripped by protests, violence and killings as armed forces battled democracy supporters for control of the new government.

The index predicts that a further 28 countries examined will see a “deterioration in stability,” suggesting that nearly 40% of all countries will witness disruption and unrest at some point in 2020.

Ukraine, Guinea Bissau and Tajikistan are all expected to see the sharpest rises in unrest, but the report highlights growing concern in the world’s biggest and most powerful countries as well.


Countries identified include the hugely influential nations of Russia, China, Turkey, Brazil and Thailand.

Maplecroft says there will be increased pressure on global firms to exercise corporate responsibility, especially those in countries “rich in natural resources where mining and energy projects often need high levels of protection.”

“However, companies are at substantial danger of complicity if they employ state or private security forces that perpetrate violations,” the report added.