Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will deliver her annual policy speech today, likely focusing on housing reform, as protests that have rocked the city since June continue.
Tens of thousands of pro-democracy activists took to the streets on Monday for a peaceful demonstration near government offices in the Admiralty district of the city. After a small bomb exploded and a policeman was stabbed on Sunday night, police have said that violent protests have escalated to a “life-threatening level”; they responded to Monday’s demonstrations with tear gas, water cannons and live rounds.
Lam is not likely to address the demands of protesters today; at most, expect continued calls for the people of Hong Kong to reject violence and look to Beijing as a source of order. Instead, the Hong Kong leader has already announced that she plans to reveal some 200 new initiatives to address the city’s notorious housing crisis.
The success of Lam’s speech today will determine the trajectory of protests. If the reforms are perceived as deflective and insubstantial, expect protests to flare up again this week, potentially becoming more violent. On the other hand, a convincing speech could help quell protests to some extent.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.