HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she had never asked the Chinese government to let her resign to end the Chinese-ruled city’s political crisis, responding to a Reuters report about a recording of her saying she would step down if she could.
China for its part expressed confidence in Lam and her government but said it would not sit idly by if the unrest threatened Chinese security and sovereignty.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets since mid-June in sometimes violent protests against now-suspended draft legislation that could have seen people sent to mainland China for trial.
Lam told business leaders last week that she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by introducing the bill and that if she had a choice she would apologise and resign, according to a leaked audio recording.
Lam told a news conference that she had never considered asking to resign and that Beijing believed her government could solve the three-month-long crisis.
“I have not even contemplated discussing a resignation with the central people’s government. The choice of resigning, it’s my own choice,” Lam said.
“I told myself repeatedly in the last three months that I and my team should stay on to help Hong Kong… That’s why I said that I have not given myself the choice to take an easier path and that is to leave.” Lam added that she was disappointed that comments made in a private meeting, where she had been sharing the “journey of my heart”, had been leaked.
At a news conference given by China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing, no questions were raised directly about the Lam tape, and a spokesman and spokeswoman did not refer to it or the Reuters story.
They denounced the violence and Western countries seeking to use the Hong Kong issue to interfere in China’s affairs, and reiterated that China would never tolerate Hong Kong independence or a leader who was not loyal to Beijing.
The central government firmly supported Lam and her government, they said. But it would not sit by forever if the violence continued, spokeswoman Xu Luying said.
“The central government will not allow chaos in Hong Kong to continue indefinitely,” she said.
“If the situation in Hong Kong continues to worsen and it becomes turmoil that cannot be controlled by the SAR government and endangers the country’s sovereignty and security, the central government will not sit idly by.” SAR refers to the “special administrative region” of Hong Kong.
The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, denounced the Reuters story in an editorial on their website.
“Reuters and other Western media have been entangled in the fake news that ‘Carrie Lam’s resignation has not been approved’ for some time, a serious infringement of the bottom line of professional ethics. — Reuters