Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday pledged not to give in to protester’s demands, even after the city’s pro-democracy camp won a landslide victory in district council elections.
Some 2.7 million residents cast their vote in a show of overwhelming support for the democracy camp, in an embarrassment for the government and Beijing.
The vote transferred control of 17 out of 18 Hong Kong districts to pro-democracy groups for the first time ever and is widely seen as a referendum on the protest movement and a sign that much of the city still supports demonstrations.
Lam told reporters on Tuesday that while “voters wanted to express their views” including dissatisfaction with the government, Hong Kong could “no longer tolerate violence on the streets,” signaling that she would continue to resist protest demands.
She said that the next step was for Hong Kong to set up an independent review committee similar to one held in Britain after the 2011 London riots.
Lam previously attempted to hold a community meeting in September but her efforts were thwarted when protesters surrounded the building as she met with 150 constituents chosen by a lottery system.
Protests began in Hong Kong over legislation that would have allowed residents to be extradited to mainland China, but they have since come to represent a mass movement against the local and Beijing governments and police violence.
The independent commission, however, has so far been blocked by police unions.
Many protesters expressed concern that the draft extradition bill was a sign that Hong Kong was losing to China the autonomy which the former British colony was promised for 50 years when it returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad in protest at the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by lawmakers in Washington.
This is as reported by Chinese state media, Xinhua news agency said in a statement.
Branstead was summoned “to lodge stern representations and strong protest” against the bill, Xinhua news agency said in a statement.
The legislation would require the US government to conduct an annual review of its special trade agreement with Hong Kong as well as the status of human rights in the former British colony.
It would also empower Washington to punish individuals found to suppress “basic freedoms” in Hong Kong, including by revoking visas or freezing assets.
After passing in both houses of the U.S. Congress this month, it has been passed to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign the bill into law in spite of the negative impact it could have on trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, who are fighting a protracted trade war.