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Lam embarks on drive to help HK residents shift to China for work

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Mrs Lam will attend a mid-week meeting in Beijing of the "leading group" for developing the Greater Bay Area of southern China.

Hong Kong

HONG Kong leader Carrie Lam will fly to China this week to discuss how to make it easier for people in the Chinese-ruled city, rocked by violent anti-China protests overnight, to live and work on the mainland, her office said on Sunday.

Mrs Lam, despised by pro-democracy protesters in the former British colony, will arrive in Beijing on Tuesday for a meeting the next day of the "leading group" for developing the Greater Bay Area of southern China.

The group has already met twice, "endorsing a number of measures to facilitate Hong Kong people to develop, work and reside in the mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area, as well as strengthen the convenient flow of people and goods", her office said.

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The idea was to attract "high-end talent" from Hong Kong with tax breaks and encourage "innovation and entrepreneurship" from young people in Hong Kong and Macau.

Mrs Lam has promoted the Greater Bay Area as a way to provide jobs for people in Hong Kong and ease social tensions.

"...After everything has been settled (in Hong Kong), the country (China) will be there to help with maybe positive measures, especially in the Greater Bay Area," she told businesspeople in Hong Kong in August.

The megalopolis of the Greater Bay Area is made up of nine mainland cities, including Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Shenzhen, and the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, a former Portuguese-run enclave that returned to China in 1999.

An increasing number of Hong Kong people are already moving outside the densely-populated financial hub - one of the world's most expensive cities - to the mainland.

Anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, turned parts of the main island into battlegrounds on Saturday, furious at Communist Party leaders in Beijing and perceived Chinese meddling with Hong Kong's freedoms, a charge China denies.

Cleaners swept up broken glass at the Hong Kong office of China's official news agency Xinhua on Sunday, one of the buildings vandalised on the 22nd straight weekend of protests when activists hurled petrol bombs and set fire to subway stations.

Xinhua condemned the attack by what it said were "barbaric thugs" who broke doors and security systems and threw fire and paint bombs into the lobby.

"The practice of the black rioters once again shows that stopping the violence and restoring order are Hong Kong's most important and urgent tasks at present," a spokesperson for Xinhua said in a Facebook post.

Police deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon at protesters on Saturday and early Sunday, as the violence spilled from Hong Kong Island across the harbour to Kowloon. One of the protesters' key demands is an independent probe into perceived police brutality.

On Sunday, there were scuffles inside shopping malls in the New Territories towns of Tai Po, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin, where police fired pepper spray as protesters hurled abuse, but nothing on the scale of Saturday's clashes. A few adults and teenagers were taken away for questioning in Sha Tin. REUTERS