Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his support Sunday for the Hong Kong government's handling of the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations, even as student protest leaders sought to schedule direct talks with central government authorities.
Xi met with Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing. It was the first time the two had met face-to-face since the protests began in late September. Xi thanked Leung for his efforts to "govern in line with law," and "to safeguard the authority of rule of law and maintain social order."
Protesters in Hong Kong, a former British territory that returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a framework known as "one country, two systems," took to the streets seven weeks ago after the standing committee of China's National People's Congress laid down a tougher-than-expected framework for the city's chief executive election in 2017. Protesters say the framework will unreasonably limit the choice of candidates to only two or three that Beijing approves of.
The poem, attributed to Emperor Taizong during the Tang dynasty, has often been cited by Chinese rulers to praise loyal ministers.
The meeting reportedly lasted 40 minutes, 10 minutes longer than planned.
Tung reiterated his call for protesters to leave the streets, saying it was affecting the economy, undermining the rule of law and tearing society apart.
Alex Chow, head of the federation, took part in the march and said the group would write to all 35 local delegates to the National People's Congress to ask them to help set up talks with Beijing officials.