Hong Kong's leader asks protesters to not damage public facilities
By NATALIE LUNG | Bloomberg | Published: September 10, 2019
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam pleaded for protesters to avoid damaging public facilities, saying the violence risked driving the city further apart.
Lam held a regular media briefing Tuesday morning before a meeting of the city's Executive Council, after violence flared again this weekend in the city center despite her biggest concession to protesters in more than three months of pro-democracy demonstrations.
"The reckless damage on MTR stations exceeds far beyond the anti-extradition bill and protest demands," she said, referring to Hong Kong's subway system. "The escalation and continued violence cannot solve the current problems faced by society, and would cause societal conflicts, rift and even hatred to deepen, making our work to resume order and mend rifts more difficult."
Small crowds set fires and vandalized subway stations on Sunday after a peaceful march by tens of thousands of people to the U.S. consulate in a bid to appeal to President Donald Trump. Riot police retaliated by clearing roads and subway stations and firing tear gas in the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay. The crowds came out despite Lam's withdrawal earlier last week of legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, which first sparked protests in early June.
Lam said she hoped people wouldn't urge the U.S. to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would impose economic sanctions and penalties on officials in Hong Kong and the mainland who have been found to stifle democracy and human rights in the Asian financial hub.
The weekend unrest signaled that protests against Beijing's increasing grip over Hong Kong show no sign of stopping despite Lam's olive branch. As they sustain momentum the city's economy is taking a hit, with visitor arrivals plunging nearly 40% in August from the same period last year and occupancy rates of hotels in some areas falling by more than half.