The central government rejected Lam’s suggestion of withdrawing the extradition bill and ordered her not to yield to any of the protesters’ other demands at that time, Reuters said it was told by three individuals with direct knowledge of the matter.
The news agency said Lam’s report on the tumult, made before an August 7 meeting in Shenzhen about Hong Kong led by senior mainland officials, examined the feasibility of the five demands of the protesters, analysing how conceding to some of these might quieten things down.
In addition to the withdrawal of the extradition bill, the other demands analysed in the report were: an independent inquiry into the protests; fully democratic elections; dropping of the term “riot” in describing protests; and dropping charges against those arrested so far, the individuals reportedly told Reuters.
The withdrawal of the bill and an independent inquiry were seen to be the most feasible politically, according to a senior government official in the SAR administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He said the move was envisioned as helping pacify some of the more moderate protesters who had been angered by Lam’s silence.
But Beijing told Lam not to withdraw the bill, or to launch an inquiry into the tumult, including allegations of excessive police force, Reuters said it was told by the senior government official.
Another of the three individuals, who has close ties with senior officials in Hong Kong and also declined to be identified, confirmed the SAR government had submitted the report, Reuters said.
“They said no” to all five demands, said the source. “The situation is far more complicated than most people realise.”
Reuters cited the third individual, a senior mainland official, as saying the Hong Kong government had submitted the report to the Central Co-ordination Group for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, a high-level group led by Politburo Standing Committee member Han Zheng, and that President Xi Jinping was aware of it.
The official is said to have confirmed that Beijing had rejected giving in to any of the protesters’ demands and wanted Lam’s administration to take more initiative.
Reuters said that in response to its report, the Chief Executive’s Office issued a statement saying Lam’s administration had made efforts to address protesters’ concerns, but did not comment directly on whether it had made such a proposal to Beijing, or received instructions.
Written questions to the Foreign Ministry were referred to the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, which the news agency said did not respond to a faxed request for comment.