HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she hoped a peaceful weekend anti-government protest was the start of an effort to restore peace.
She said that dialogue with peaceful protesters would provide a ‘way out’ for the Chinese-ruled city.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied peacefully in torrential rain on Sunday in the eleventh week of what have been often violent demonstrations.
She said that she hoped this was the beginning of society returning to peace and staying away from violence.
“…We will immediately start the work to establish a platform for dialogue. This dialogue, I hope, will be based on a mutual understanding and respect and find a way out for today’s Hong Kong.”
Anger erupted in June over a now-suspended bill that would allow criminal suspects in the former British colony to be extradited to mainland China.
But the unrest has been fueled by broader worries about the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place after Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, including an independent judiciary and the right to protest.
Further protests are planned in the next few days, including one by MTR subway workers on Wednesday, secondary school students on Thursday and accountants on Friday.
The chaos has spread overseas. Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc said on Monday they had dismantled a social media campaign originating in mainland China that sought to undermine protests in Hong Kong.
Sunday’s turnout, which organizers put at 1.7 million, showed that the movement still has widespread support despite chaotic scenes last week when protesters occupied the airport.
Some activists had apologized for the airport turmoil and protesters could be seen on Sunday night urging others to go home peacefully.