Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam scraps US talks after Senator's show of support for protesters
Ms Lam cancelled a meeting with Senator Ted Cruz, the highest-profile US politician to visit the city since anti-government protests broke out more than four months ago, the senator said today. Ms Lam’s office had requested that the afternoon meeting be completely confidential and that Cruz refrains from speaking with the media about it, Cruz told journalists in Hong Kong. But when the Republican from Texas showed up dressed head to toe in black in a show of support for demonstrators, talks were abruptly cancelled.
Mr Cruz said: “She seems to misunderstand how free speech operates, and also how freedom of the press operates.”
“Ms Lam cancelling the meeting is not a sign of strength. It’s a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of fear of the protesters in the streets of Hong Kong.”
Ms Lam’s office said in a statement: “The Chief Executive did not meet with the said US Senator.”
For months, Hong Kong has been paralysed by unprecedented protests calling for democracy and against police brutality.
The former British colony was returned to China in 1997 and promised broad autonomy for 50 years under a “one country, two systems” model.
But many in Hong Kong accuse Beijing of eroding its freedoms.
Today, demonstrators took to the streets again, and the government said petrol bombs were thrown inside a Hong Kong metro station.
Mr Cruz added: “I stand with the people of Hong Kong calling on the government of China to honour the promises it made to the world when it promised to maintain political freedom in Hong Kong.”
Asked if he condemned the violence that has flared during the protests, Mr Cruz said he advocated non-violent protest with the protesters and democracy activists he had met.
He also said he believed Chinese President Xi Jinping was “terrified of millions of people in Hong Kong, but even more than that, millions of people in China yearning to live free”.
The meeting follows the 70th China Anniversary celebrations where Beijing flaunted its military prowess and sent another statement for its intentions of global domination.
A reported 15,000 soldiers marched last week while The Ministry of National Defence claimed that 59 different elements of the armed forces would be present, with the most threatening weapon to be unveiled the latest road-mobile DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, which is believed to have the potential to reach as far as the US in just 30 minutes.
However, despite the sophisticated weaponry and huge turnout in Tiananmen Square, the celebrations faded into the backdrop of the violent and ever-escalating Hong Kong protests.
An activist was shot in the chest by police on Tuesday, the first injury from live ammunition since the protests began. The protestor survived but has subsequently been charged with assault.
Previously police had been using rubber bullets, but an 18-year-old was shot and is undergoing surgery, with police saying he was hit “near his left shoulder”.
As far as international headlines are concerned, the violence in Hong Kong overshadowed President Jinping’s elaborate march in Beijing.
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