Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is in full damage control mode after Reuters reported leaked audio from a closed-door meeting in which she said she would resign over the ongoing political crisis in the city.
“If I have a choice … the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology,” Lam said during the private gathering, adding that her ability to resolve the crisis is now “very limited.”
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of the former British colony since mid-June in sometimes violent protests against now-suspended draft legislation that could have seen people sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party controlled courts.
Lam told business leaders last week that she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by introducing the bill and that if she had a choice she would apologize and resign, according to a leaked audio recording. –Reuters
Speaking on Tuesday in a televised news conference, Lam said that she “never tendered any resignation,” however she did not deny the authenticity of the recording.
“I have not even contemplated discussing a resignation with the central people’s government. The choice of resigning, it’s my own choice,” she said, adding “I told myself repeatedly in the last three months that I and my team should stay on to help Hong Kong … That’s why I said that I have not given myself the choice to take an easier path and that is to leave.”
Lam said that she was disappointed that comments she made while sharing the “journey of my heart” had been leaked.
At a news conference given by China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing, no questions were raised directly about the Lam tape, and a spokesman and spokeswoman did not refer to it or the Reuters story.
They denounced the violence and Western countries seeking to use the Hong Kong issue to interfere in China’s affairs, and reiterated that China would never tolerate Hong Kong independence or a leader who was not loyal to Beijing. –Reuters
So far, Beijing has firmly supported Lam and her government over anti-government unrest – but has made clear that they will not stand by forever if the violent protests over a controversial extradition bill and other grievances continue, according to spokeswoman Xu Luying.
“The central government will not allow chaos in Hong Kong to continue indefinitely,” she said.
“If the situation in Hong Kong continues to worsen and it becomes turmoil that cannot be controlled by the SAR government and endangers the country’s sovereignty and security, the central government will not sit idly by.”
China’s communist news outlet, the People’s Daily, denounced Reuters – who they said were spreading fake news.
“Reuters and other Western media have been entangled in the fake news that ‘Carrie Lam’s resignation has not been approved’ for some time, a serious infringement of the bottom line of professional ethics,” the outlet said in an editorial. “They are not objectively reporting facts.“