Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed a “high degree of trust” in Hong Kong’s unpopular leader Carrie Lam as the two met in Shanghai, state media said, days after the Communist Party agreed to change the way it picks or removes the city’s top official.
Xi also called for “effective efforts” to be made in improving people’s lives and having dialogue with all sectors of society, according to the official Xinhua news agency following Monday’s meeting at the China International Import Expo.
“Lam has led the SAR government to fully discharge its duties, strive to stabilize the situation and improve the social atmosphere, and has done a lot of hard work,” the Chinese president said, according to Xinhua.
“Xi voiced the central government’s high degree of trust in Lam and full acknowledgement of the work of her and her governance team,” the state media agency reported, adding Xi noted “ending violence and chaos and restoring order remain the most important task for Hong Kong at present.”
Hong Kong has been upended by huge, often violent, pro-democracy protests this year, which have battered the financial hub’s reputation for stability and helped plunge the city into recession.
China has run the city under a special “one country, two systems” model, which allows Hong Kong liberties not seen on the mainland, since its handover from the British in 1997.
But public anger has been building for years over fears that Beijing has begun eroding those freedoms, especially since President Xi Jinping came to power.