Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, China August 5, 2019.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam yesterday condemned the latest string of violent acts that “disrespected national dignity” and said such acts will push Hong Kong into a “very dangerous” situation.
“Such extensive disruptions in the name of certain demands or uncooperative movement have seriously undermined Hong Kong’s law and order and are pushing our city, the city that we all love and many of us helped to build, to the verge of a very dangerous situation,” she said at a press conference, her first in over two weeks.
“The government will be resolute in maintaining law and order in Hong Kong and restoring confidence,” she told reporters.
She warned that some protesters were challenging the country’s sovereignty and the principle of “One Country, Two Systems.”
“We saw recently, it is already clear that people are impertinently proposing to ‘reclaim Hong Kong, revolution of our times,’ which challenges the country’s national sovereignty,” she said. “I dare say it is trying to topple Hong Kong, completely destroy the cherished lives of more than 7 million people.”
When answering a question on calls for her resignation, Lam reiterated that she, as the chief executive, was taking responsibility for her government actions and she and her team would continue to bring the city out of chaos. She also promised to listen and respond more to the city’s residents.
She went on to appeal to the city’s residents to rally together to say no to violence.
“The only thing to deal with violence is not to do anything to give way to more violence… The only way to deal with it is to rely on the rule of law,” she said.
“The crisis now is not about the extradition bill… it is about Hong Kong’s safety and security,” she added, calling for efforts to restore law and order as soon as possible.
She spoke on a day that saw widespread strike across the city. Activists descended on subway stations during morning rush hour, deliberately keeping open doors to stop trains departing and paralyzing large parts of a network that millions of people use daily.
In the afternoon they held seven simultaneous rallies, stretching the resources of police.
Mass Transit Railway subway personnel try to prevent a protester from blocking the door of a train as protesters disrupt services at Fortress Hill station in Hong Kong yesterday.
Multiple MTR lines and stations, including the Island Line from Wan Chai to Chai Wan station, Tung Chung Line from Tsing Yi to Kowloon station, West Rail Line from Hung Hom to Austin station and Tsuen Wan Line from Tsim Sha Tsui to Tsuen Wan station, were all suspended during the rush hour yesterday morning.
MTR lines gradually resumed service in the afternoon, according to Hong Kong Transport Department.
The strike hit the vital aviation sector.
More than 200 flights at the city’s airport — one of the world’s busiest — were canceled by yesterday afternoon.
By 3pm yesterday, the status of at least 247 flights read “canceled,” including 111 arrivals and 136 departures, according to the flight schedule on the Hong Kong airport’s official website.
Public broadcaster RTHK said Cathay Pacific and other domestic carriers such as Hong Kong Airlines were the most affected. Airport express train service was also suspended.
The carriers did not give a reason for the cancelations, but its flight attendants union confirmed some of its members had walked out.
Some key roads were also blocked, causing gridlock.
Some protesters set up barriers at the Kowloon entrance of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, blocking traffic.
Many shops across the city were shuttered, including big-name fashion outlets in the central commercial district.
The strike led to some scuffles between angry commuters and protesters at crowded subway stations, with videos circulating across social media highlighting tensions throughout the city.
“Too much. Why do they have to create trouble for people not involved in their cause?” said 52-year-old John Chan, whose flight to Singapore was canceled.
The past fortnight has seen a surge in violence from increasingly hostile projectile-throwing protesters.
Dozens of protesters have been charged with rioting, which carries a jail term of 10 years.
At a daily briefing, a police spokeswoman said 420 protesters have been arrested since June 9. Those held — who are between the ages of 14 to 76 — face charges including rioting, unlawful assembly, possessing offensive weapons and assaulting officers and obstructing police operations, the spokeswoman, Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan, told reporters.
Yu said during the protests 139 officers had been injured in clashes, with two still hospitalized with fractures.
She said violence has been escalating, with protesters using gasoline bombs and fire, including sending a trolley full of burning trash hurtling toward officers.
“We love Hong Kong and hope to restore public order. If we continue to tolerate and turn a blind eye to lawless behavior, the consequences will be undesirable for our citizens,” Yu said.