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Global Times

Central government reiterates trust in Hong Kong

Global Times

By Wang Cong and Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/7 1:05:31

Meeting with vice premier a signal that Beijing will not sit idle

Vice Premier Han Zheng met Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in Beijing on Wednesday, harshly condemned the violent and secessionist activities and reiterated the central government's firm support for Lam in stopping the riots and addressing livelihood issues.

Han was the second top official from the central government to meet Lam after President Xi Jinping met her one day earlier, and the two meetings strongly signaled that Beijing won't sit idle and watch Hong Kong continue to be engulfed by violence, Chinese observers said.

During the meeting, Han reiterated praise for the hard work of the Hong Kong government and police in dealing with what he described as "the most serious situation" since the city's return to the motherland in 1997. "Such extreme violent and vandalism activities are intolerable and unacceptable in any country and any society," Han said, noting that secessionist activities exceeded the legal and moral boundaries, and hurt the interest of Hong Kong society and its residents.

"The central government will always firmly support the HKSAR government and the Hong Kong Police Force to stop violence and riots and restore order," Han said.

The meetings not only intended to show confidence in the HKSAR chief executive but also to push for more effective legal tools in stopping the violence, said Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"This can be seen as an expectation on Lam… to fully use all legal tools available under the Basic Law to stop violence and riots," Zhi said on Wednesday.

Han said the central government also hoped the Hong Kong government would take more "proactive and effective" measures to address issues related to people's everyday lives, he said.

"The central government will definitely fully support addressing livelihood issues, especially issues that have gained much attention in the Hong Kong society such as middle- and low-income family housing issues and young people's employment and housing issues," he said.

Han also noted that a decision by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China following the Fourth Plenary Session stressed that the central government would uphold the "one country, two systems" principle to ensure the lasting prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao.

Han's mention of the decisions and policy address indicated that the central government may have already addressed pragmatic plans to back the Hong Kong government to get out of the current impasse, said Fan Peng, a member of the Beijing-based Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

Witman Hung Wai-man, principal liaison officer for Hong Kong at the Shenzhen Qianhai Authority, noted that the Hong Kong SAR government has been experiencing hardships amid the ongoing riots and speculation that the central government was drawing up plans to replace Lam affected her popularity.

Han meeting Lam was a rebuke to speculation that the central government planned to replace her, Hung asserted.

Lam said her government was firmly determined to stop the violence and chaos and stick to the "one country, two systems" principle.

Serious violent situation

Although the Hong Kong government has tried to end the violence and chaos, serious violent incidents are still happening in the city, with Chinese experts saying that ending the violence and chaos was an urgent task for all of Hong Kong society.

In the months-long turmoil, police officers, ordinary people, mainland tourists and even lawmakers have all been attacked and injured.

The stabbing of pro-establishment Hong Kong legislator Junius Ho Kwan-yiu in Tuen Mun on Wednesday morning shocked city and drew widespread criticism.

A Hong Kong government spokesman on Wednesday condemned the attack and said the government would not tolerate violent acts and the police would continue to strictly enforce the law to safeguard peace in society.

Carrie Lam also sent condolences to Ho and strongly condemned the violence.

The alleged attacker was subdued, arrested and taken to Tuen Mun Hospital. A video of the attack shows a man in blue approaching Ho and after a brief conversation, stabbing him in the chest.

"The attack came very suddenly this morning and left a 2 centimeter wound," Ho told the Global Times after the attack on Wednesday.

"Luckily, the knife did not reach my heart. I believe the perpetrator had some mental issues. We all need to be careful. I will be back to work as soon as possible."

The pro-establishment camp has been threatened by "black forces," Ho said.

Black is the color chosen by the anti-government protesters and radical separatists.

Ho's assistant, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times that two of his colleagues sustained injuries on the hand and arm in the same attack.

"It was horrible to see a suspect, pretending to be supporter, stab Ho in his chest, which was an attempted murder," Elizabeth Quat, a politician associated with the pro-establishment Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, told the Global Times.

"This shows Hong Kong is facing severe violence and how to make the elections justified remains a question."

Lawrence Ma, a barrister and chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, speculated that the attacker could receive a life sentence for "intended murder."

Ma explained that because the attacker showed no concern for the consequences of his attack, he should be pressed with a heavier charge than "severe injury."

The attack on Ho was probably a ramification for the attack on Andrew Chiu Ka-yin last week, Ma noted.

The pro-democracy lawmaker was among four people seriously injured when an attacker with a knife bit off a part of his ear at a shopping mall on Sunday night.

"Hong Kong is mired in violent politics," Ma told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Best way out

Lam arrived in Beijing Tuesday night after concluding her visit to the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

On Wednesday afternoon, she attended the third plenary meeting of the Leading Group for the Development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The meeting was hosted and convened by Vice Premier Han Zheng to discuss and plan the next stage of development of the Greater Bay Area.

Han at the meeting emphasized the comprehensive and accurate implementation of the principle of "one country, two systems" and steadily promoting the construction of the Greater Bay Area.

Lam welcomed 16 policy measures introduced by the central government, which aim to benefit people from all walks of life and facilitate development of the Greater Bay Area.

The measures would offer further convenience to Hongkongers developing their careers, working and living in mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area, as well as enhance the convenient flow of people, goods and capital within the Greater Bay Area, Lam said.

The move showed that barriers were being diminished or even erased in the future, said Fan of the Hong Kong & Macao association. The Greater Bay Area was the best way out for Hong Kong, he noted.

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