Beijing supports HK govt in bid to end protests, says Chinese Premier Li
Beijing will support the Hong Kong government to bring the violent protests and chaos in the city to an end, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday. Premier Li who is the number two leader in the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) is the senior-most leader to have so far commented on the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
Li made the comments during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Beijing on Friday.
The German leader urged Beijing to find a peaceful solution to the crisis and protect the rights of Hong Kong residents.
In his comments, Li said Beijing supports Hong Kong’s leadership, helmed by embattled chief executive, Carrie Lam, to “safeguard Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability”.
“People should believe that Chinese people have the ability and wisdom to manage its own affairs,” Li, was quoted by news agencies, as saying.
“The Chinese government unswervingly safeguards ‘one country, two systems’ and ‘Hong Kong people govern Hong Kong people’”, Li said.
Beijing administers Hong Kong as a special administrative region (SAR) under the “one country, two systems’’ principle, which gives local residents certain rights like the freedom to protest not enjoyed by Mainland residents.
Merkel said that there are signs of a dialogue and hoped that the protesters would be able to participate.
The Hong Kong people’s rights and freedoms have to be granted, she said.
Merkel is on her 12th visit to China.
The anti-government demonstrations began in June over an extradition bill that would have allowed the Mainland to extradite criminal suspects from Hong Kong.
Lam officially withdrew the bill on Wednesday but failed to pacify the protesters.
The Chinese state media, meanwhile, has continued to strongly criticise with the Communist party mouthpiece, People’s Daily saying the “demonstrations have developed into extreme violence” and accusing protesters of using teenagers as “tools”.
“Teenagers may think its “cool” to get out on the street and demonstrate. However, the law has some tolerance for juveniles, which has caused them to challenge the bottom line repeatedly. Teenagers are not mature enough to tell right from wrong. Provoked by radicals and the media, they are more likely to conduct violent and illegal activities,” the People’s Daily comment piece said.