Hong Kong chief executive visits Beijing with increasing pressure on her at home

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam headed to Beijing on Saturday for her first visit to the Chinese capital since her government’s landslide in local elections last month, sparking speculation about changes in her government.

During her four-day visit, Lam is scheduled to discuss with Chinese officials the political and economic situation in the Chinese-ruled city and meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday.

Hong Kong has witnessed daily violent protests, sometimes six months ago, as demonstrations turned down the rejection of a bill that was later withdrawn to hand over suspects to China into demands for more democratic freedoms.

Hundreds of thousands marched on Sunday’s rally in protest at what was described as Beijing’s undermining of the freedoms guaranteed by the handover of the former British colony to China in 1997. Many young protesters are angry at Lam’s government and accuse her of failing to tackle issues of social inequality in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

“Our seriousness in dialogue with citizens has not changed,” Lam said in a Facebook post on Saturday. She added that her ruling team will use “different forms of dialogue to listen to the citizens sincerely.”

Lam said last week that a cabinet reshuffle was not an “immediate task” and that she would focus her efforts on restoring law and order to Hong Kong. Nevertheless, there are doubts about the willingness of Beijing to support it, especially after the victory of candidates demanding democracy, about 90 percent of the seats in the local elections that took place last month.

China condemned the unrest and blamed it on outside interference. Beijing denies meddling in Hong Kong affairs. In an editorial last week, the official China Daily called on the Hong Kong government to strengthen the rule of law.

On the other hand, police said they arrested three men on Saturday and charged them with testing remote-controlled explosives. Police also found protective shields and gas masks.

The government said police had also arrested five teenagers in connection with the killing of a 70-year-old man last month and accusations of riots.

In a statement, the government added that the man was attacked with bricks and later died in hospital.

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