HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she has never asked the Chinese government to let her resign to end the city’s political crisis, responding to a Reuters report about a voice recording of her saying she would step down if she could.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a news conference in Hong Kong, China, September 3, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Lam told a televised news conference that Beijing believed her government could solve the three-month long crisis without mainland China’s intervention.
“I have never tendered any resignation,” Lam said.
“The reason I didn’t tender my resignation is because I think I can lead my team to help Hong Kong to walk out from this dilemma. I still have the confidence to do this, so a contradiction that I really want to quit but I cannot quit does not exist.”
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets since mid-June in protests at a now-suspended extradition bill which would see people sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party controlled courts.
The unrest has morphed into a broader call for Chinese-ruled Hong Kong to be granted greater autonomy by Beijing, which has accused foreign powers, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the unrest.
Lam told business leaders last week that she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by introducing the extradition bill and that if she had a choice in the matter then she would apologize and resign, according to a leaked audio recording.
Lam said on Tuesday that she was disappointed details of a private meeting were leaked.
Hong Kong school and university students on Tuesday are due to boycott classes and hold pro-democracy rallies for the second straight day.
This followed a weekend marred by some of the worst violence since the unrest escalated more than three months ago, with protesters burning barricades and throwing petrol bombs, and police retaliating with water cannon, tear gas and batons.
Protesters are seeking greater democracy for the former British colony which returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees wide-ranging autonomy, including the right to protest and an independent judiciary.
They fear those freedoms are being slowly eroded by Communist Party rulers in Beijing, a charge China denies.
A spokesman for China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office is due to speak to the media about the situation in Hong Kong at 3pm (0700 GMT).
Reporting by Clare Jim, Donny Kwok, Farah Master, Felix Tam, Noah Sin and Twinnie Siu; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Michael Perry