Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will meet with 150 randomly selected pro-democracy advocates in the northern city of Wan Chai today—one of three community forums proposed by Lam’s office in an attempt to open dialogue with pro-democracy activists.
Hong Kong has seen months of unrest triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to mainland China. The protests have since extended beyond the bill, morphing into sometimes violent displays of dissent against Beijing’s increasing influence in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government says that all participants will be able to express their views regardless of political stance, and that its representatives will listen in a “sincere, open and inclusive manner”. However, protesters have labelled the move a political show. Opposition activists say they are reluctant to attend because registration requires submitting personal details to the Hong Kong government.
While the outreach effort may represent a step towards quelling unrest, it will likely do little to defuse violent street demonstrations given the intense scepticism surrounding the event.
With the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, Hong Kong authorities will be keen to ensure that the city’s unrest does not overshadow celebrations in Beijing. The government could introduce a series of political reforms designed to prevent further encroachment by Beijing, which would answer a central demand made by the protesters.
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