During a meeting with Carrie Lam, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on December 16 that the turmoil over amendments to extradition legislation has damaged Hong Kong society on all fronts. The Hong Kong leader is in Beijing for talks with Li and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Lam's visit is the first since the pro-democracy protests began. In the meeting, Li reiterated the central government’s support for the Hong Kong administration.
“In the past year, our politics, economy, and society have really faced big problems,” Lam said.
On Sunday evening protesters threw bricks at police officers, who in turn fired tear gas. The rioters also set fires, blocked roads and smashed traffic lights with hammers, according to authorities. As seen in video footage, truncheon-wielding riot officers squirted pepper spray directly at a photographer in a group of journalists and ganged up to beat and manhandle him. Moreover, an online media site said its photographer was beaten and detained, but it is unclear if he was the same one in the video. Police also squirted pepper spray and made several arrests in several shopping malls. Protesters hope that the Chinese Government would not ask Lam to step down.
Protester Fong Lee, a social worker, said at a rally in Hong Kong on Sunday, "If they did change, let her step down, then that means that it’s a loss in the battle. The Communist Party wouldn’t do that”.
Hong Kong is gripped by protests since June this year. The protests are led by pro-democracy groups in the semi-autonomous region of China. The protests started after China decided to bring a bill that would allow the Communist country to extradite prisoners from the region which was not allowed until then. China had to withdraw the controversial Fugitive Offenders Amendment Bill following violent protests by a group of students and other professionals. A new data released by the Airport Authority of Hong Kong has recorded a fall in passenger numbers by over 16.2 per cent compared to a year earlier.
(With AP inputs )