Chinese President Xi Jinping met Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam in Beijing on Monday, saying he recognized her courage to govern the Asian financial hub in these “most difficult” times.
“The situation in Hong Kong in 2019 was the most complex and difficult since its return to the motherland,” Xi told local media in brief comments before the closed-door session.
Lam’s meetings come after Hong Kong police fired tear gas in late-night street clashes with anti-government protesters on Sunday, as the former British colony’s worst political crisis in decades drags on into the seventh month.
Hong Kong media have speculated that Lam’s talks with Xi could yield fresh directives on the city’s political crisis, including a possible cabinet reshuffle. Xi did not go into specifics but reiterated his support for Lam despite some previous media reports suggesting she might be replaced.
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“We will continue to be unwavering in supporting you to lead the Hong Kong special administrative government to govern in accordance with the law,” said Xi as Lam listened next to him.
He added Beijing was “unwavering in supporting the Hong Kong police to firmly uphold the law”, while expressing the hope for unity in Hong Kong to get the city back on the right path.
Earlier, Lam met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who said Hong Kong was not yet out of the “dilemma” facing the city’s ailing economy after months of sometimes violent protests.