China’s Xi gives Hong Kong leader ‘unwavering support’

BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping told beleaguered Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam yesterday that she had Beijing’s “unwavering support” after another huge pro-democracy rally earlier this month and her government’s thrashing at recent local elections.

The city has been upended by six months of massive protests that have seen violent battles.

Protesters have called for Lam to stand down as leader but she received the backing of China’s leadership during an annual visit to Beijing yesterday. “The central government fully recognises the courage and sense of responsibility you have demonstrated in such an exceptional period in Hong Kong,” Xi told Lam at the imposing Great Hall of the People. “We will continue to provide unwavering support for you to lead to govern according to the law,” Xi said.

Lam thanked Xi for his concern for the city’s situation, “for his guidance for us, and for the trust and support for me to handle such a big crisis.”

Lam met earlier with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who said her government had “tried its best to maintain social stability” amid “an unprecedentedly severe and complicated situation.”