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

Carrie Lam last week withdrew a controversial extradition bill that had triggered the protests. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

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

  • Lam said she deeply regretted interference by foreign parliaments in the Asian financial hub’s matters
  • Chinese officials have accused foreign forces of trying to hurt Beijing by creating chaos in Hong Kong

HONG KONG: 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.
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.
Chinese officials have accused foreign forces of trying to hurt Beijing by creating chaos in Hong Kong and warned other nations against interfering in the territory, saying the situation is an “internal affair.”
On Monday, former US Defense 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.
Anger over the now-shelved extradition bill has reinvigorated public opposition to Beijing that had dwindled after 2014, when authorities faced down a pro-democracy movement that occupied streets for 79 days in the central business district.
Many initially peaceful protests in the past three months have degenerated into encounters between baton-wielding riot police and activists, leading to scores of injuries and about 1,300 arrests.
The protests, beamed live to the world since June, have prompted some of the city’s powerful tycoons to appeal for calm.
In his first speech mentioning the unrest, billionaire Li Ka-shing urged political leaders to offer young people an olive branch, calling them “masters of our future,” according to an online video of remarks to a small crowd during a monastery visit on Sunday.
Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland. Many Hong Kong residents fear Beijing is eroding that autonomy. China denies the accusation of meddling in the city.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 15 September 2019

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.