Hong Kong leader arrives in Beijing for high-level talks

Today, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng in Beijing. This is the

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Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace

Today, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng in Beijing. This is the first meeting between the two since anti-government protests flared in June.

Beijing has generally been displeased with the Hong Kong government’s handling of the crisis. Communist Party officials have criticised Lam’s government for not doing enough to protect Chinese investments in the city or to foster “patriotism”.

Although Hong Kong officials have started cracking down on the protests—by increasing arrests, loosening search warrant requirements and banning face masks—it has been reported that Beijing officials have drafted a plan to replace Lam with an “interim” chief executive by March 2020.

To date, the chief executive has condemned overt violence and anti-regime sentiment, while broadly addressing the economic concerns of the movement—namely, unemployment and lack of economic opportunity. However, if Lam fails to see eye-to-eye with Beijing officials today, she may resign or be removed from office well before March 2020. An early departure would likely indicate that Beijing intends to pursue a harder line in quelling the protests. On the other hand, retaining Lam in the medium to long-term would signal caution from the regime.

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