(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s beleaguered Chief Executive Carrie Lam called on protesters to break the deadlock gripping the city, after she held a meeting with former officials and other prominent people to find a way out of the impasse.
About 30 people were invited to the gathering at Government House on Saturday, including ex-transport chief Anthony Cheung and Cardinal John Tong, the former bishop of Hong Kong, RTHK reported. Lam said in a Facebook post that the meeting was not a “dialogue platform” but a gathering to share ideas on how to build one.
Hong Kong entered its 12th weekend of protests, sparked by Lam’s plan to introduce a law enabling extradition to places including China. They have since widened into a broader movement against Beijing’s increasing grip. Demonstrations have at times turned violent with police firing teargas and beanbag bullets, and have paralyzed the city center.
Lam said her proposal to build a platform for dialogue has caused skepticism and criticism.
“I do not expect dialogue to easily resolve the deadlock, stop demonstrations, or to provide solutions to problems,” she said. “But continuing to fight is not the way out.”
Protesters have made five demands: the extradition bill -- currently suspended -- is withdrawn; an independent inquiry is set up into police conduct during the protests; Lam must resign; the government must retract its characterization of the violent clashes as “riots”; and people arrested in connection with the clashes must be unconditionally freed.
“I know that in the current predicament, there is deep social resentment, and some citizens are very dissatisfied, or even angry with the government’s failure to fully meet the ‘five demands,’” she wrote. “There is growing resentment among people of different political views and citizens of different positions, and even hatred may grow.”
Lam said that the talks the government is advocating would include all sections of society and would “last a rather long period of time.”
“It is not a dialogue for the sake of dialogue, but rather about figuring out the root of social discontent and finding the direction in which social discontent can be addressed,” she said.
Lam’s post on Saturday showed a hint of fatigue at dealing with weeks of protests that have hurt the economy, businesses and the city’s international reputation.
“We are all tired after over two months,” she said. “Shall we sit down and have a talk?”
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