Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addresses Hong Kong protests

In meeting with German leader Angela Merkel, Li claims Beijing will respect 'One Country, Two Systems'

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Beijing, Sept. 6

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Beijing, Sept. 6 (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Friday (Sept. 6) in Beijing after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang weighed in on the protests in Hong Kong, making him the first of China’s top leaders to publicly address the issue.

Representing China’s ruling council, the Politburo, Li took a restrained approach to the unrest in Hong Kong, stating that Beijing will resolutely uphold the “One Country, Two Systems” framework. Li intoned that the Hong Kong government was capable of handling its own problems without interference from the central Chinese government, expressing his support and confidence for “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong.”

In addition to expressing confidence in the Hong Kong authorities, Li also subtely warned foreign governments not to involve themselves in the problems facing the Special Administrative Region. “Chinese people have the capability and wisdom to manage well our own affairs,” said the premier, as reported by SCMP.

Li’s statement followed Merkel’s earlier comments that Beijing should do its “utmost” to avoid violence and pursue political dialogue to resolve the crisis. Seated alongside the German leader at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Friday, the Premier said the following, as reported by the Japan Times.

“(We) support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government in stopping violence and chaos and restoring order in accordance with the law, also to protect, maintain Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.”

Li’s comments may be viewed by international observers as China’s attempts to quell speculation that a military crackdown by the PLA is imminent. Beijing likely hopes to avoid taking serious risks that might threaten Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial center.