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Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's embattled leader, said Monday that she believes her city is on the verge of "a very dangerous situation."
Those comments came in an address to the news media as the global financial center remains gripped by a general strike and continued protests.
Hong Kong has been rocked by political unrest for nearly three months now. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets since early June, spurred by their opposition to a proposed bill that would have allowed people in Hong Kong to be extradited to Mainland China. The proposal has been suspended — but not fully withdrawn — yet demonstrations continue and have shifted into a movement calling for autonomy, full democracy and the ousting of Lam.
During her Monday address, Lam said the demonstrators have taken their protests beyond the extradition bill, and she added that the "extensive disruptions in the name of certain demands" have "seriously undermined Hong Kong's law and order."'
The city's leaders pointed to disruptions to transportation — including those seen Monday during a general citywide strike — as evidence that the city was seeing a material impact from the protests.
She declared that her government would take a tough approach: "The government will be resolute in maintaining law and order in Hong Kong and restoring confidence."
The chief executive, however, dismissed as "untrue" rumors that China's People's Liberation Army had been deployed into the city's streets to help control protesters. Those claims had arisen because of Beijing's implications about intervention, and the PLA itself releasing a video last week saying it's committed to safeguarding "Hong Kong's prosperity and stability."
Lam also indicated she intended to stay in her job — despite repeated calls for her to step down.
On July 1, a group of protesters broke into the city's legislature building and vandalized the office. Business communities, city authorities and Beijing spoke out against those actions but the situation soured even further. Reports and footage from the scenes of several protests depicted the Hong Kong Police taking violent measures against protesters. That has incited even more public anger towards authorities.
Many protesters have been arrested in the past month for offenses including vandalizing China's national emblem on a government building, unlawfully assembling and engaging in violent behavior. Those arrests have contributed to the collapse of trust between many members of the public and the government.
On Monday, workers from various industries were set to participate in a general strike aimed at bringing the city to a halt. Many flight departures were shown as being canceled on Monday and a source and media reports said that was due to aviation workers planning to strike, according to Reuters. The MTR, the city's major rail line is also experiencing delays and suspensions due to train door obstruction by demonstrators according to its website.
— Reuters contributed to this report.