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Hong Kong’s Lam slams 'speculative' reports she'd be replaced

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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam dismissed reports of her looming replacement as "very malicious," reiterating that she had Beijing's support despite more than four months of unrest.

[HONG KONG] Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam dismissed reports of her looming replacement as "very malicious," reiterating that she had Beijing's support despite more than four months of unrest.

Mrs Lam's comments before a meeting of the city's Executive Council Tuesday came after a Financial Times report said Beijing was mulling a plan to remove Mrs Lam after her administration failed to quell months of increasingly violent unrest. Pro-establishment lawmaker Michael Tien separately told Bloomberg News that Beijing was looking into a plan to replace the chief executive, and was considering candidates to fill Hong Kong's top job next year.

Mrs Lam called the Financial Times report "very malicious and maybe politically driven speculation."

"As far as I'm concerned from the beginning of this social unrest til now, the central government has been very supportive and remains confident that I, myself, my political team, and the Hong Kong SAR government, particularly the police, will be able to handle the situation and end violence and return Hong Kong to normal as soon as possible," Mrs Lam said.

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Mrs Lam's popularity fell to record lows in early October, according to the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute.

Her introduction of legislation that would allow extraditions to China sparked months of protests against Beijing's tightening grip over the city. Mrs Lam's moves to withdraw the bill and invoke a colonial-era emergency law to ban face masks have done almost nothing to stem the chaos.

Lam had separately pledged to address the city's notoriously expensive housing prices in a major policy speech Oct. 16 but was shouted down by opposition lawmakers and forced to deliver her address by video. She was later heckled in Hong Kong's Legislative Council.

Hong Kong is battling a rapidly worsening economic situation, with the Asian financial hub likely to fall into a technical recession when advance third-quarter economic growth figures are released Oct. 31. Financial Secretary Paul Chan said on Sunday that Hong Kong may report negative growth this year.

Mrs Lam said Tuesday that she would closely monitor the city's economic situation and provide further relief measures, without specifying.

 

BLOOMBERG