Hong Kong's chief executive says he won't resign, calls for protest to end
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Hong Kong's top leader said he has no intention of resigning. Police, he explained, "will [treat] the students' rally with the greatest tolerance." However, protests must stop; they cannot go on indefinitely.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying spoke at the end of the tensest day so far in the crisis gripping the former British colony.
In a statement, he said his chief secretary, Carrie Lam, had received a letter from the Hong Kong Federation of Students on the "constitutional development" of Hong Kong, and that they had "studied the letter in detail". On that basis, he appointed Lam to meet with the students as soon as possible.
Leung stressed that he would not resign though "because I have to continue to do the work of Hong Kong electoral reform". At the same time, "Any dialogue on political reform has to be based on the Basic Law and framework [set] by the National People's Congress".
He explained that protests could not go on indefinitely. Police would exercise the greatest restraint towards students and young people. Indeed, "I repeat, police will [treat] the students' rally with the greatest tolerance."
Whilst acknowledging that protesters gathered in front of the chief executive's office in Admiralty had exercised self-restraint and rationality, he warned however that besieging government buildings "can cause serious consequences" and "must be dealt with seriously".
The Federation of Students' secretary General Alex Chow asked the crowds gathered at Tamar for time for negotiations.
Before this compromise could reached and the meeting agreed, police repeatedly warned protesters that it was "ready for anything" to restore calm in the city.
In the late afternoon, security forces lined up the halls of the seat of government with crates containing anti-riot suits, tear gas and rubber bullets.
A source told AsiaNews that the current crackdown has stirred the hearts of citizens, and "turned people against the government."