China envoy rules out Hong Kong concessions ahead of crunch ‘dialogue’

HONG KONG (AFP) – A top Chinese envoy, Deputy Commissioner at the Foreign Ministry’s office in Hong Kong Song Ru’an, ruled out making any further concessions to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong yesterday, just a day before the city’s embattled leader meets the public in a bid to defuse the months of chaos.

Hong Kong has been rocked for more than three months by sometimes violent protests pushing for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.

The movement represents the biggest challenge to Beijing’s rule since the international finance hub was handed back by Britain in 1997. Carrie Lam, the city’s unelected pro-Beijing leader, is set to meet with 150 people chosen by lottery tonight for the first of what is being billed as a series of “dialogue sessions”.

Her administration has portrayed the gatherings as an opportunity for Hong Kongers to “vent their anger” and find a way forward after more than 100 days of protests. But it is unclear what, if anything, Lam can offer.