The Chinese central government on Tuesday reiterated its firm support for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's efforts to put an end to violence, and said the situation in Hong Kong has improved but remained grim.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor speaks at a press conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday. (Photo: IC)
At Tuesday's press conference in Beijing, two spokespersons of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council mentioned Lam's name five times, stressing that the central government firmly supports her and her team to implement policies in accordance with laws, and to pursue constructive discussions with different groups, including young people, in the city.
Spokesperson Yang Guang said during the Tuesday conference in Beijing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government and society's current priority is to put an end to the violence and chaos, and restore order, urging Hongkongers to say no to violence and to support Lam's administration in strictly enforcing the law.
Yang also said the central government supports Lam and her team to communicate with people from all walks of life to explore solutions to Hong Kong's economic development and livelihood improvement.
The spokespersons' comments came after Lam's press conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday morning, in which she refuted a Reuters report, claiming that she has never submitted any resignation to the central government, and that she is confident that she can lead the city out of its current crisis.
"A conversation from a private party has been made public. I think it's very inappropriate. I am very disappointed," Lam said, in response to an audio recording of a private speech made public by Reuters on Monday late night.
"My speech in the audio was private. It was not supposed to be made public, so there was no deliberate implication in my choice of words," Lam said.
The Reuters report quoted Lam as saying she has caused "unforgivable havoc" by allowing the ongoing protests across Hong Kong, and would quit if she had a choice. This was reported on the basis of an audio recording of remarks she made last week during a closed-door meeting with a group of businesspeople.
Lam also allegedly said that if she had a choice, "The first thing [I would do] would be to quit, having made a deep apology," the Reuters report said.
"I said on several occasions that throughout the period, I have never submitted my resignation to the central government. The choice not to resign is my own. I told myself that my team and I should stay on. It is not an easy path but I'd rather stay with the people of Hong Kong," Lam said.
She said at least five times that she has never wanted to resign.
Tang Fei, a member of the council of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies in Hong Kong, said the released audio would give the opposition forces the illusion that the central government and the SAR government will allow the chaos to continue, further raising the level of violence and so-called extreme pressure.
"Therefore, Lam issued a statement to clarify the truth. Her tactic to deal with the crisis should be acknowledged, and Lam should launch an investigation on who divulged the audio," Tang told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Hong Kong political elites are now on the frontline as the geopolitical pattern has been evolving amid the China-US trade war. And it's very normal for Lam to experience emotional "ups and downs" in such a difficult time, Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan from Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The central government's comments showed there is no substitute for Lam and she can continue performing her duties. And such official comments sent a strong signal that the solution to Hong Kong's situation rests on the SAR government, not on the central government, Tang said.
However, Li pointed out that without being creative, Lam's administration could not lead Hong Kong out of the current crisis, as its highly autonomy system will not always be an absolute advantage for the city, especially when the gap between China and the Western world has narrowed.
Hong Kong society should be prepared for a huge crisis, both from the outside and within, weighing on its decades of prosperity, the expert noted.
Part of interference
Some Western media, including Reuters, have been entangled in the false news that Lam's resignation has not been approved for some time.
This news followed another Reuters "exclusive" report on Friday, which claimed that Lam had submitted a proposal to Beijing earlier this summer, asking that the five key demands from the Hong Kong protesters should be taken seriously, and that the proposal was subsequently rejected.
The Global Times has since learned the Reuters "exclusive" story was "fake."
Chinese analysts slammed the reports for seriously violating professional ethics, and have become part of outside interference into Hong Kong's situation.
The reports were aimed at sabotaging relations between the SAR government and the central government, they pointed out.
Tuesday afternoon's press conference in Beijing sent a message to Western media that the Chinese government has faith in Lam's administration. The support for her and the SAR government will not be discorded by the noise, Tang said.
Yang, the spokesperson, pointed out that opposition groups want an election process to select a Hong Kong chief executive who represents their stance and would not be responsible to the central government, to pave the way for them to govern Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong's electoral system must be based on the Basic Law and approved by China' top legislature," said Yang, stressing that the only principle for the system is that it must be consistent with Hong Kong's political status.