Carrie Lam, the current leader of Hong Kong, is well known for having condemned the protesters who are fighting against her extradition laws. Instead of listening to the requests of her own citizens, the leader has always tried to block them, since they were considered the cause of the dampening economy and also because they were ruining the image of the financial hub.
On October 16th, the annual key speech of the leader was scheduled to take place, but something different than the usual has happened, as a sign of the drastic change that Hong Kong is living in these days. Indeed, Carrie Lam has been forced to interrupt her speech and leave the chamber due to the protesting oppositions of lawmakers.
Different voices were shouting loudly at the Legislative Council, saying “Carrie Lam step down!“. Then, speaking through a video link, she said that she would not tolerate the advocacy of Hong Kong independence and “challenges to national sovereignty”, blaming the ongoing protests for Hong Kong’s economic troubles.
Furthermore, Prof Michael Davis, fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre, said economic benefits should not be “an excuse to neglect other more fundamental issues regarding Hong Kong’s autonomy”. As he stated : “Reducing it to only economics is to adopt Beijing’s main talking points. Beijing readily blames all dissent on economics. There is more at stake”.
This was the first parliament meeting since July, when the extradition bill was suspended due to the protests. Demonstrators started to hit the streets in June against the plan to allow the extradition, seen as another attempt by China to undermine the city’s freedoms and judicial independence. As a matter of fact, Hong Kong is part of China, but as a former British colony, has some autonomy and people have more rights which have never been recognized in a fully way.
In September the government promised the bill would be withdrawn once parliament resumed, but demonstrations have continued unheard. And they are still fighting in the streets, even after Chinese President Xi Jinping said any attempt to divide China would end in “bodies smashed and bones ground to powder“. This implicit warning to Hong Kong will not stop the protesters.