HK leader says no plan to use emergency powers

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday her administration had no plans to use colonial-era emergency powers to introduce new laws, after a long weekend of violent protests saw widespread defiance of a ban on face masks.
Despite the violence, and the first interaction between Chinese troops stationed in the territory and the protesters, Lam said Hong Kong was equipped to handle the situation on its own, as it braced for more demonstrations through the week.
Lam’s comments came as the Asian financial hub got back to work after the weekend, with its metro rail system only partially functioning and authorities warning residents they may have trouble commuting due to widespread vandalism of infrastructure.
Speaking at a weekly news conference, Lam said tourist numbers had fallen sharply and the impact on the city’s third quarter economic data of the protests, which have been going on for about four months, would “surely be very bad”.
She appealed to property developers and landlords to offer relief to retailers whose businesses had been hit.
“For the first six days of October, during the so-called Golden Week holiday, visitors visiting Hong Kong plunged over 50 per cent,” she said. Retail, catering, tourism and hotels had been severely hit, with some 600,000 people affected, she added.
The protests, which show no sign of abating, pose the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
What started as opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill has grown into a pro-democracy movement against what is seen as Beijing’s increasing grip on the city, which protesters say undermines a “one country, two systems” formula promised when Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
China dismisses such accusations, saying foreign governments, including Britain and the United States, have fanned anti-China sentiment.
US President Donald Trump said on Monday that if anything bad happened in Hong Kong it would be bad for the US-China trade talks.
And an increasing number of US lawmakers voiced anger on Monday over the National Basketball Association’s response to a Houston Rockets official’s tweet backing the protests. — Reuters