Date
18 November 2017
A lone policeman stands against a backdrop of protesters. Beijing says it has been tolerant enough of the protesters and has ruled out any concessions. Photo: AFP
A lone policeman stands against a backdrop of protesters. Beijing says it has been tolerant enough of the protesters and has ruled out any concessions. Photo: AFP

Beijing: Concessions to protesters not an option

China will not cave to Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters because it wants to avoid setting a precedent for reform in the mainland.

It said it has already offered enough concessions to Hong Kong, according to Reuters.

The decision was made during a meeting of the new National Security Commission chaired by President Xi Jinping in early October and appears to give Hong Kong’s leader little room for maneuver as he seeks to end the crisis.

The protests, which China says are illegal, have presented leaders in Beijing with one of their toughest political challenges since the army violently suppressed student-led democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

Beijing believes it has already been tolerant enough of the protests in the former British colony, the report said, citing three unnamed sources with ties to the Chinese leadership.

Asked if the central government will make minor concessions, a source with leadership ties said: “Dialogue [with protest leaders] is already a concession.”

The Hong Kong government canceled planned talks with protest leaders after accusing them of trying to use the process to incite more people to join their movement.

On Aug. 31, Beijing ruled  that it would screen candidates who want to run for chief executive in 2017, which activists said rendered the universal suffrage concept meaningless.

The central government’s bottom line on the ruling will not change, the report said.

However, it will send paramilitary forces to quell the protests “only as a last resort”.

Hong Kong is not high on the list of the central government’s priorities, according to another source. The economy is the top priority.

Meanwhile, Zhang Xiaoming, head of Beijing’s liaison office, urged lawmakers to support Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his government by taking initiatives to counter the protest movement, Ming Pao Daily reported.

He accused the West of fanning the demonstrations by labeling them as a revolution and defended the use of tear gas by the Hong Kong police on the protesters.

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TL/AC/RA

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