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Hong Kong leader says escalation of violence will not solve social issues


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Soccer fans hold signs in support of anti-government protesters at a football World Cup qualifier match between Hong Kong and Iran, at Hong Kong Stadium, China - Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters): An escalation of violence cannot solve social issues in Hong Kong, the leader of the Chinese-ruled city, Carrie Lam, said on Tuesday, adding that she deeply regretted interference by foreign parliaments in the Asian financial hub’s matters.

Lam was speaking after another weekend of sometimes violent clashes in the former British colony, with police firing tear gas to disperse protesters in cat-and-mouse skirmishes, at times smashing windows and starting street fires.

“It’s extremely inappropriate for foreign parliaments to interfere in HKSAR internal affairs in any way, and (we) will not allow (the United States) to become a stakeholder in HKSAR matters,” Lam said, referring to Hong Kong’s status as a special administrative region of China.

During a rally at the US consulate on Sunday, thousands of demonstrators had called for help in bringing democracy to Hong Kong.

The protesters wanted the US Congress to pass legislation that would require Washington to make an annual assessment of whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from mainland China to retain special US trade and economic benefits.

Chinese officials have accused foreign forces of trying to hurt Beijing by creating chaos in Hong Kong, and warned other nations against interfering in what they called an internal affair.

On Monday, former US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said the anti-government protests were “not an internal” Chinese matter and the United States should offer at least moral support to the demonstrators.

After three months of unrest, Lam last week withdrew a controversial extradition bill that had triggered the protests, but the gesture failed to appease many demonstrators, who are using the popularity of the movement to revive old grievances.

 


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