SHANGHAI – China’s President Xi Jinping expressed his support for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has been harshly criticized by the pro-democracy protesters that have been taking to the streets of the semi-autonomous region over the last few months, the state-owned Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.
Xi met with Lam on Monday in Shanghai, where they had come to attend the second China International Import Expo.
He voiced the central government’s high degree of trust in Lam and full acknowledgment of her work and that of her team, Xinhua reported.
Xi listened to Lam’s report on the situation in the special administrative region and said that the latter had led the government “to fully discharge its duties, strive to stabilize the situation and improve the social atmosphere,” and had done a lot of hard work.
The president also expressed hope that the people of Hong Kong would implement the principle of “one country, two systems” and the island’s basic law, as well as strive to safeguard its prosperity and stability.
Over the last five months of protests there have been several rumors about Lam’s exit as chief executive, following criticism from several sections of society, including pro-democracy demonstrators, who have been demanding her resignation for weeks.
Another demand of the protesters was for lesser intervention by Beijing into the affairs of the semi-autonomous region.
After attending the expo in Shanghai, Lam was scheduled to travel to Beijing on Wednesday to meet with Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Han Zheng, who is in charge of the affairs of the former British colony.
The Hong Kong protests, which have been drawing massive crowds since June following a contentious proposed extradition law, have mutated into a movement that seeks to improve the democratic mechanisms that govern Hong Kong and safeguard the region’s partial autonomy from Beijing.
However, some demonstrators have opted for more radical tactics than peaceful civil disobedience and violent clashes with the police have been frequent.