Hong Kong’s last British governor Chris Patten on Tuesday cautioned against Chinese intervention in the city, which has been wracked by anti-government protests for more than two months, warning that such action would be a catastrophe.
Patten said he hopes Chinese President Xi Jinping will see the wisdom of trying to bring people together, Reuters reports.
It will be counter-productive for China to warn of “other methods” if the Hong Kong protests do not stop, he said.
“That would be a catastrophe for China and of course for Hong Kong,” Patten told BBC radio, according to the report.
“Since President Xi has been in office, there’s been a crackdown on dissent and dissidents everywhere; the Party has been in control of everything,” Patten remarked.
Patten said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson should ask US National Security Advisor John Bolton who is in London this week to get Washington to agree that it would be a “catastrophe” if China is to intervene in Hong Kong.
“I very much hope that even after 10 weeks of this going on, the government and President Xi will see the sense in establishing a way of actually bringing people together,” Patten said.
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the city’s recovery from protests that have swept the Asian financial hub could take a long time.
“There is a degree of frustration and anger at the government refusing to give any sensible ground at all which probably provokes more violence,” Patten said.
“I can’t believe that any rational person in Carrie Lam’s position would actually argue the case against a commission of inquiry,” he said.
“What’s clearly needed is a process of reconciliation. It’s the only way I think you’ll put a cap on this and get back to peace and stability in Hong Kong.”
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