HK leader Carrie Lam will not ask Beijing about quitting
HK chief executive says China believes her government can solve crisis
HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said yesterday she has never asked the Chinese government to let her resign to end the city's political crisis, responding to a Reuters report about a voice recording of her saying she would step down if she could.
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets since mid-June in protests at a now-suspended extradition Bill which would see people sent to China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.
Mrs 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.
She told a televised news conference yesterday that she had never considered asking to resign and that Beijing believed her government could solve the crisis without China's intervention.
"I have not even contemplated discussing a resignation with the central people's government. The choice of resigning, it is my own choice," she said. "I told myself repeatedly in the last three months that I and my team should stay on to help Hong Kong ...
"That is why I said that I have not given myself the choice to take an easier path and that is to leave."
Mrs Lam added she was disappointed that comments made in a private meeting, where she had been sharing the "journey of my heart", had been leaked.
Comments on the Reuters article seemed to be censored on Chinese social media.
The growing unrest has morphed into a broader call for Hong Kong to be granted greater autonomy by Beijing, which has accused foreign powers, particularly the US and Britain, of fomenting the unrest.
In the recording, Mrs Lam said her ability to resolve the crisis was now "very, very limited" as she has to serve "two masters" and the issue had been elevated "to a national level", a reference to Beijing.
But Mrs Lam said yesterday that her government had the confidence of Beijing and could bring an end to the unrest itself.
"I think I can lead my team to help Hong Kong to walk out from this dilemma. I still have the confidence to do this," she said. "Up till now, the central government still thinks (the Hong Kong) government has the ability to handle this."
Hong Kong school and university students are due to continue boycotting classes and holding pro-democracy rallies.
Police have arrested around 900 people since the protests began.
Protesters are seeking greater democracy for the former British colony, which returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula that guarantees wide-ranging autonomy, including the right to protest and an independent judiciary. They fear those freedoms are being eroded by Communist Party rulers in Beijing.
Speculation has grown that the city government may impose emergency laws, giving it extra powers over detentions, censorship and curfews.
Mrs Lam said yesterday that her government was considering all legal avenues to solve the crisis. - REUTERS