Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief secretary, who was appointed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to handle talks with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy student leaders, is leaving for the mainland Saturday despite a resurgence of support for the Occupy Central movement. Crowds congregated on Friday night after Lam, the Hong Kong government’s second-in-command, told student leaders that she would not follow through with plans to discuss demands from student leaders.
Instead, Lam will be joined by Leung and other top officials on a trip to Guangzhou, located in China’s southern Guangdong province, for a previously scheduled business forum this weekend. Rimsky Yuen, the justice secretary, and Raymond Tam, the minister in charge of constitutional affairs, who were also expected to participate in talks with pro-democracy supporters, will also be traveling to Guangzhou. Though Lam is expected to be back in Hong Kong by Sunday evening, the rest will return on Monday afternoon. Lam and Leung’s departure follows renewed rallying in Admiralty, an area in Hong Kong’s central business district.
While most of the protests had begun to dissipate over the past few days, the sudden breakdown in talks announced by Lam Thursday night fueled a renewed effort by Occupy protesters. In a statement, Lam said it would be “impossible to have a constructive dialogue” with protesters after some student activist groups vowed to escalate public disobedience and chaos if Hong Kong’s government did not give “substantial responses” to their demands. Lam said negotiations could not take place under the threat of disruption. “Their unlawful actions must end as soon as possible,” Lam said.
According to the South China Morning Post, by 9 p.m. on Friday, the gathering in Admiralty was in full swing, with crowds congregating near the Central Government Offices in Tamar. An hour later, crowds exceeded 10,000 people, with many protesters vowing to camp out for the night. Joshua Wong, the 17-year-old protest leader recently featured on the cover of Time’s Asia Pacific edition, said the group would not retreat until the government apologized for gassing unarmed citizens.