Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam finally acknowledged public dissatisfaction with her government but has offered no concessions. Her acknowledgement comes after landslide wins by pro-democracy candidates in local elections.
In China, state media sought to downplay and discredit the weekend ballot that delivered a stinging rebuke to the pro-Beijing establishment. In what was widely seen as a referendum on Lam’s handling of public unrest.
Lam pledged to “improve governance” in the wake of the district council elections. She acknowledged revealed concern over “deficiencies in her pro-Beijing government. Including unhappiness with the time taken to deal with the current unstable environment.”
In a vote that stunned Beijing, candidates campaigning against China control seized an overwhelming majority of 452 elected seats in the city’s 18 district councils. Bodies that have historically been firmly in the grip of a Beijing-aligned establishment.
The result — the first vote held since protests engulfed the city — was a humiliating rebuke to Beijing and Lam. She has dismissed calls for political reform.. and repeatedly suggested that a silent majority supported her pro-Beijing establishment administration.
In the wake of the polls, pro-democracy politicians have stepped up calls for Carrie Lam to address the movement’s key demands. — Such as direct popular elections for the city’s leadership and legislature, and a probe into alleged police brutality.
On Tuesday’s weekly Hong Kong press briefing, Lam sidestepped those calls. Denouncing the street violence and repeating an earlier pledge to open a dialogue on the unrest. A proposal that opponents have also dismissed as too little, too late.
Hong Kong Protest Over Beijing Control
Millions of Hong Kongers took to the streets earlier this year after Carrie Lam introduced a bill to allow extraditions to China. Although the bill was eventually withdrawn, it added fuel to growing fears on Beijing’s tightening grip on the territory.
Carrie Lam’s latest comments have indicated “no reflection, no response and no resolution” for the Hong Kong crisis. Meanwhile, China’s state media, cast doubt on the vote’s legitimacy, focusing on violence that marred campaigning.
“External forces that have helped stoke the months-long anti-government campaign in (Hong Kong) also contributed greatly to damaging the election chances of pro-establishment candidates,” it said.
Carrie Lam has also repeated calls for protesters hold up in a university campus to come out peaceably.