Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday said she deeply regretted interference by foreign parliaments in Hong Kong’s affairs, adding that an escalation of violence cannot solve social issues in the city.
Lam was speaking after another weekend of violent clashes in the former British colony, with police firing tear gas during dispersal operations and protesters smashing windows and starting street fires.
“It’s extremely inappropriate for foreign parliaments to interfere in HKSAR internal affairs in any way, and [we] will not allow [the United States] to become a stakeholder in HKSAR matters,” Lam said, referring to Hong Kong’s status as a special administrative region of China.
During a rally at the US consulate on Sunday, thousands of demonstrators had called for help in bringing democracy to Hong Kong.
The protesters wanted the US Congress to pass legislation, called the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, that would require Washington to make an annual assessment of whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from mainland China to retain special US trade and economic benefits.
Chinese officials have accused foreign forces of trying to hurt Beijing by creating chaos in Hong Kong, and warned other nations against interfering in what they called an internal affair.
On Monday, former US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the anti-government protests were “not an internal” Chinese matter and the US should offer at least moral support to the demonstrators.
After three months of unrest, Lam last week withdrew a controversial extradition bill that had triggered the protests, but the gesture failed to appease many demonstrators, who are using the popularity of the movement to revive old grievances.
“Escalation and continuation of violence cannot solve the issues faced by our society now,” Lam told a news conference on Tuesday. “It will only deepen the conflict, contradiction, splits, and even hatred in society.”
Many initially peaceful protests in the past three months have degenerated into encounters between baton-wielding riot police and activists, leading to scores of injuries and about 1,300 arrests.
The protests, beamed live to the world since June, have prompted some of the city’s powerful tycoons to appeal for calm.
In his first speech mentioning the unrest, billionaire Li Ka-shing urged political leaders to offer young people an olive branch, calling them “masters of our future”.
But Lam on Tuesday stressed that the rule of law must prevail.
She also said that her administration’s actions, including the extradition bill’s formal withdrawal, were “not directly to stop these protests and violence”.
“It is really to express my sincerity to start a dialogue with the people,” Lam said. With Reuters
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