Carrie Lam Reportedly Resigned After Protests but Beijing Refuses to Let Her Go

Beijing insists the Hong Kong Chief Executive “stay to clean up the mess she created.”

by Meera Navlakha
16 July 2019, 7:49am

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has reportedly offered to resign in the wake of a political crisis that has gripped the Chinese territory for weeks.

The ongoing turmoil stems from a series of protests opposing an extradition bill that could send criminals to mainland China for trial. Though the bill has been declared “dead,” the country remains in a precarious position.

According to two people speaking anonymously to the Financial Times, Lam has repeatedly suggested that she resign from her role. The pressure on Lam and her administration was immense.

Lam’s proposition, however, was not received well. Beijing has insisted that she “stay to clean up the mess she created,” according to a person directly involved in the situation.

“No one else can clean up the mess and no one else wants the job,” one of these unnamed individuals said.

The Financial Times approached Lam’s office for an official statement, to which they said, “The chief executive has made it clear in public that she remains committed to serving the people of Hong Kong.”

Lam herself suspended the extradition law but has fallen short of officially withdrawing the proposal. She also conceded that the government’s handling of the bill was “a total failure.” This hasn’t stopped demonstrators from demanding a complete withdrawal.

“We suspended it and we have no timetable,” said Lam at a press conference. “What I said today is not very different from before, but maybe people want to hear a very firm response … the bill has actually died.”

Beijing’s refusal to let Lam step down may put her in an even more delicate situation as protesters have repeatedly called for her resignation.

The reaction to the bill is one of the greatest challenges to Beijing’s rule since Hong Kong’s handover from the British 22 years ago. It's the clearest indication of its citizens’ desire to maintain their autonomy from China. At its peak, the protests saw 2 million people take to the streets—the biggest in its history. The protests have also turned violent on a number of occasions, with plenty of recorded injuries. On the 22nd anniversary of its handover, protesters stormed the legislative building and sprayed graffiti on its walls.

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