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Opinion / James Chambers

No end in sight

There are two questions that we in Hong Kong keep asking each other. First, do you think Carrie Lam, the chief executive, will resign? Second, how will Beijing respond? Following another weekend of violent unrest, we could soon find out the answer to the former – but in the long run, the latter will be of far greater importance.China has been noticeably quiet about the protests, doing little more than issuing a few strongly worded denouncements. Indeed Beijing has – rather ironically – appeared to honour the so-called “one country, two systems” political arrangement by allowing the Hong Kong government to take care of its own domestic situation. The official narrative is that it was Carrie Lam’s decision to introduce the extradition bill that was the catalyst for the protests – so this is her mess and she should clean it up.However, the latest incident could prove to be the one that forces Beijing to act – and that would be a major turning point. On Sunday protesters marched beyond the usual symbols of Hong Kong authority, ending up outside the so-called Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government. There they daubed the building in graffiti and defaced the Chinese national emblem. It is the first time this year that the central government in Beijing has become the direct target of protesters’ ire and it could represent the moment when this movement moves beyond its original goal of ending the extradition bill.That leads us on to a third question: how does this all end? Certainly not with Carrie Lam stepping down – that would only be the start.

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