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Hong Kong's leader asks protesters to ‘calm down’

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam meets petitioners outside her office in Hong Kong, China, on August 13, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has urged the protesters in the city to calm down and not push it into the “abyss.”

“Violence, no matter if it’s using violence or condoning violence, will push Hong Kong down a path of no return, will plunge Hong Kong society into a very worrying and dangerous situation,” Lam said at a news conference on Tuesday. “The situation in Hong Kong in the past week has made me very worried that we have reached this dangerous situation.”

Lam said the recovery of the international financial hub from the recent unrest could “take a long time” and that she would be responsible for rebuilding its economy after the violence eases.

“I again ask everyone to put aside your differences and calm down,” Lam said. “Take a minute to think, look at our city, our home, do you all really want to see it pushed into an abyss?”

Unrest began in Hong Kong ten weeks ago, when people started taking to the streets to protest a proposed bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited and stand trial in mainland China.

While the government has practically dropped the bill, the protests have continued. Recently, the protests have been increasingly unruly.

Meanwhile, Beijing has repeatedly warned against violence.

On Monday, Yang Guang, an official at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said the radical demonstrators” in Hong Kong have been using “extremely dangerous tools” to attack security forces. He said the first signs of “terrorism” were emerging.

Hong Kong’s airport, the world’s eighth busiest by passenger traffic, reopened on Tuesday with some flight resumptions after an unprecedented closure triggered by protests.

Beginning on Friday, protesters had occupied the airport and had forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights, affecting thousands of people.

But the overall protests continue.

Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997.

China has said foreign countries, mainly the United States and Britain, have been provoking the protesters by issuing statements of support. Beijing has asked the two countries to stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.

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