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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam recorded saying she 'would resign if she could'

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam recorded saying she 'would resign if she could'Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam has said she “would resign if she could”, according to an audio recording of a speech she gave to a group of businesspeople last week. In often anguished remarks, she apologised for igniting the “unforgivable chaos” in the city and said her room to respond was “very limited” as the Chinese government now considers the protest movement a national security issue. “If I have a choice,“ she said, ”the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology.”  The audio recording of the speech, given in English, was obtained by Reuters and gives the clearest indication yet of the weakness of the Hong Kong government in relation to Beijing, which has not faced a political crisis this severe since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Ms Lam has long denied being a puppet of the Chinese government but reports have consistently made clear that the Communist Party is effectively calling the shots on how to handle the crisis. However, Ms Lam was adamant the Chinese military will not intervene. She said there was “absolutely no plan” to deploy the People’s Liberation Army and that China has imposed no deadline on ending the unrest, preferring to ride out any economic cost. The chief executive, who was chosen as city leader in 2017, spoke of her sadness at being unable to walk the city or visit hair salons such is the anger at her government. However, she was bitterly self-critical about the decision to try and pass the extradition bill that kicked off the protests, saying the decision was nothing to do with Beijing. “This is not something instructed, coerced by the central government,” she said, adding “this has proven to be very unwise given the circumstances. And this huge degree of fear and anxiety amongst people of Hong Kong vis-à-vis the mainland of China, which we were not sensitive enough to feel and grasp." Students gather under umbrellas on the University Mall at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) during a class boycott rally in Hong Kong Credit: Bloomberg Often criticised as inflexible and unempathetic in her public appearances, Ms Lam choked up several times during the meeting, which was one of several behind-closed-doors encounters she has arranged with citizens from “all walks of life”. In the 24-minute recording, she says that for ““for a chief executive to have caused this huge havoc to Hong Kong is unforgivable.” Meanwhile yesterday/Monday thousands of secondary school and university students protested on the day they were due back in class, announcing a two-week boycott. Co-organized by two student groups and the pro-democracy party Demosisto, one organizer said over 4,000 secondary school students from over 230 schools joined the rally. “I am more worried about Hong Kong than ourselves at this moment, maybe in the next five years we will be studying in the university or working, but what is happening now will affect the whole Hong Kong society, and other countries as well,” said one student, 17, in a school uniform. Across the harbour thousands of students from 10 universities gathered at the Chinese University in black t-shirts, some holding signs saying “boycott for freedom”. In a press conference on Monday, Hong Kong police said they had arrested 159 people over the weekend, including one 13-year-old found with petrol bombs. China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuan, yesterday said the demonstrations in Hong Kong had “completely exceeded the scope of freedom of assembly”.



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Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Says Extradition Bill Is ‘Dead’ as Unrest Continues

Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Says Extradition Bill Is ‘Dead’ as Unrest Continues(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong protest leaders vowed to return to the streets after the city’s leader declared her controversial extradition bill “dead,” suggesting her latest effort to resolve a weeks-long political crisis had backfired.Demonstrators issued new calls for people to join their rallies despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s acknowledgment Tuesday that the legislation, which would for the first time allow extraditions to China, wouldn’t get passed. Although it’s the closest she’s come to admitting defeat after an unprecedented wave of unrest — including the ransacking of the city legislature last week — she stopped short of agreeing to protesters’ demand to withdraw the bill.“The bill is dead,” Lam told reporters Tuesday in Hong Kong. “Our work on the extradition bill amendment is a complete failure.”Lam’s refusal to formally retract the proposal left open the possibility that the government could revive it with 12 days’ notice and provided a new rallying point for a protest movement that has persisted through repeat marches, extreme heat and tear gas volleys from police. Opponents of the bill planned another rally Sunday in East New Territories district of Sha Tin, in an attempt to show support far from the city center.“She’s only putting oil on the fire,” Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki told reporters Tuesday. “We will anticipate more outcry, more people coming out to the streets to demand for democracy in Hong Kong.”Earlier: Beijing’s Message to Hong Kong: Get in Line or Face IrrelevanceThe legislation has helped unify the former British colony’s once-fractured opposition, drawing hundreds of thousands into the streets and illustrating a source of domestic weakness for Chinese President Xi Jinping in the middle of a growing strategic struggle with the U.S. Lam’s attempts to quiet the unrest — first “pausing” efforts to pass the legislation, then apologizing — have only fueled more protests.Besides demanding the complete withdrawal of the bill, opponents want Lam to resign and drop charges against demonstrators arrested during police clashes. Protesters mustered one of the largest marches ever in city’s Kowloon district Sunday, even after the decision by some protesters to break into and vandalize the Legislative Council chamber drew widespread condemnation.The turmoil has raised new questions about Hong Kong’s long-term viability, almost halfway through China’s 50-year promise to preserve capitalist markets and personal freedoms established by the British. Lam and her backers in Beijing so far appeared determined to hang on, or risk emboldening an opposition bent on slowing their agenda and securing a direct election for chief executive.“Stepping down is not an easy thing,” Lam said, in response to a question about whether she planned to resign. “I still have the enthusiasm and responsibility to serve the public. I hope the public can give my team and myself a chance and space to implement a new administration style.”Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing had “nothing new to add” since backing Lam’s June 15 decision to suspend efforts to pass the legislation. “The Chinese central government already expressed our support, understanding and respect,” Geng said.Extradition ConcernsThe legislation would let Hong Kong enter one-time deals to transfer criminal suspects to various jurisdictions, including mainland China. The measure fanned worries among the business community and the city’s democracy advocates about the erosion of the “one country, two systems” framework set up before Hong Kong’s return to China.Hong Kong’s dollar fell back into the weak half of its trading band as traders predicted the city’s recent liquidity squeeze is nearing its end, though there was no indication Lam’s remarks had impacted the move. The currency was down 0.15% at 7.8113 per dollar as of 4:14 p.m. local time.Leaders of student groups that have participated in recent protests also rejected an offer from Lam for public talks to reconcile their differences, saying any such meeting must focus on their core demands. Some activists pointed out that four of the five student leaders who Lam met with during a previous bout of mass protests in 2014, when she was the city’s No. 2 official, were later prosecuted for their roles.“Carrie Lam’s invitation for dialogue is a trap,” said Jimmy Sham, a leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized the biggest recent protests. “Carrie Lam said she has repeatedly reflected on her work and apologized, but a key thing she hasn’t reflected on is that there’s no one in Hong Kong who trusts her, and she hasn’t contemplated why nobody has faith in her.”Lam has failed to heal divisions in the former British colony two years after taking over from her unpopular former boss, Leung Chun-ying, who was forced to forego seeking a second term due to widespread discontent. While Lam may have underestimated the opposition to her extradition bill, her task was complicated by the requirement to serve two masters — Hong Kong and Beijing — without a public vote to provide a mandate.Billy Gung, a 27-year-old accountant who has attended the largest recent protests, said the extradition bill was a piece of the bigger political problem. “Even if the extradition law is dead, there will be other bills in the future that favor Beijing and are not in the interest of Hong Kong,” Gung said.\–With assistance from Bruce Grant, Fion Li, Will Davies and Sharon Chen.To contact the reporters on this story: Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Carol Zhong in Hong Kong at yzhong71@bloomberg.net;Kari Lindberg in Hong Kong at klindberg13@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Hong Kong protesters block road outside Carrie Lam's office to demand she step down

Hong Kong protesters block road outside Carrie Lam's office to demand she step downThousands of protesters laid siege to the Hong Kong Chief Executive’s office on Monday in the latest escalation of a long-running standoff with the government over a controversial new extradition law. The mostly young demonstrators closed down a main road near the city’s waterfront as they stood outside Carrie Lam’s office and called for her to resign and scrap the bill which would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial in its opaque justice system. Dressed in the black and sheltering from heavy rain under colourful umbrellas, the determined remnant from a march of an estimated two million people on Sunday threatened to block the road until the law was withdrawn. The latest demonstration added to the growing pressure on Ms Lam to step down over her poor handling of Hong Kong’s biggest political crisis since its handover to China in 1997. On Monday Lu Kang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said Beijing would continue to support the embattled leader. However, a senior Hong Kong government official revealed that China, which would lose face over her resignation after handpicking Ms Lam for the job, would not let her leave the post even if she wanted to. “It’s not going to happen,” the official told Reuters. The demonstrations show little sign of abating despite Lam's apology and indefinite suspension of the law Credit: Reuters With the demonstrations showing little sign of ending and activists rejecting her apologies for misjudging the public mood and her gesture to indefinitely suspend the law, Ms Lam appeared on Monday to have been backed into a political corner with no obvious way out. The calls for her resignation were invigorated by Joshua Wong, 22, one of Hong Kong’s most renowned pro-democracy activists, after his surprise release from jail where he had been serving a two-month sentence for obstructing the clearance of a protest camp during mass rallies five years ago. The charismatic Mr Wong, who became the face of the 2014 “Occupy” movement, revived the spirits of protesters outside the Hong Kong parliament with the rallying cry that he was ready to re-join the frontline of their campaign. “I am proud of each and every Hong Konger that we are sending a loud and clear message to President Xi Jinping and Chief Executive Carrie Lam that we are not weak,” he said to loud cheers. “We want to send a message about the power of the people!” Mr Wong asked supporters to allow him time to figure out his next move after his stint in jail, but many hope he will further galvanise the protests which have spontaneously snowballed into a mass civil resistance movement despite the lack of a clear figurehead or strategy. The uproar over the extradition bill highlights public fears that Beijing is chipping away at rights and freedoms in the former British colony despite the promise of a special autonomous status when China took control 22 years ago. Mr Wong made clear as he left prison on Monday that his political struggle ran much deeper than abolishing the extradition bill. “It is a long-term battle for us to fight for democracy under the suppression of the Communist party of China,” he told a waiting media scrum. Bonnie Leung, a leader of the Civil Human Rights Front – one of the main groups behind the mass rallies – told The Telegraph that Mr Wong’s involvement could help elevate the flourishing campaign “to the next level,” especially among the younger generation who were inspired by his activism. “I believe that Joshua Wong coming back and joining this campaign will only encourage people to persist and to throw out more great and creative ideas,” she said. But Ms Leung added that international pressure was also crucial for the movement’s survival. “Concern from all around the world is important because this is for justice, for freedom, and people need to speak up for these values,” she said.



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Carrie Underwood Kisses Husband Mike Fisher After Winning CMT Award for Female Video of the Year

Carrie Underwood Kisses Husband Mike Fisher After Winning CMT Award for Female Video of the YearPLUS: Blake Shelton takes home top honors after winning Video of the Year.



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Carrie Underwood Says She 'May Or May Not Have Cried' After Getting Caught Speeding

Carrie Underwood Says She 'May Or May Not Have Cried' After Getting Caught SpeedingCountry singer Carrie Underwood says she felt ashamed after a police officer in Brentwood, Tennessee, pulled her over for speeding on Monday.



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Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher's Marriage Is Basically a Real-Life Fairytale

Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher's Marriage Is Basically a Real-Life FairytaleThe adorable couple have been married for five-and-a-half years.



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