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Hong Kong ‘won’t rule out’ Chinese help over protests — leader

By AFP - Oct 08,2019 - Last updated at Oct 08,2019

A woman takes photographs during a media tour of the closed Mong Kok MTR train station in Hong Kong on Tuesday (AFP photo)

HONG KONG — Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday said China intervening to end months of pro-democracy protests is an option. 

The financial hub has been gripped by four months of rallies, and last weekend saw much of the city grind to a halt as masked demonstrators took to the streets in defiance of a ban on face coverings.

Lam's decision last Friday to invoke colonial-era emergency powers — not used for half a century — to impose the ban sparked some of the most violent scenes since the crisis began, as hardcore protesters trashed dozens of subway stations, vandalised shops with mainland China ties, built fires and blocked roads.

Hong Kong was virtually locked down over the three-day holiday weekend, with the majority of subway stops closed. Thirteen damaged stations remained shut on Tuesday morning as rush-hour commuters returned to work after the long break, although two reopened later.

The Mass Transit Railway operator said the entire network — which carries four million people daily — would close at 8:00pm (12:00 GMT), five hours earlier than usual.

Lam told reporters that while she believes the city's authorities can cope with the unprecedented troubles, China could be called upon if the situation becomes "so bad".

"At this point in time, I still strongly feel that we should find the solutions ourselves. It is also the position of the central government [in Beijing] that Hong Kong should tackle the problem on her own.”

"But if the situation becomes so bad, then no options can be ruled out if we want Hong Kong to at least have another chance."

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