Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday reportedly declined to rule out seeking military intervention from China amid ongoing demonstrations in the city.
Lam said at a weekly news conference that while Beijing prefers to let Hong Kong handle its own affairs, she has the power to seek help from China, Reuters reported.
“If the situation becomes so bad, then no options could be ruled out, if we want Hong Kong to at least have another chance,” she said, according to the news service.
However, she added she has no current plans to take such action.
“[A]t this moment, I and my team, we are still very committed in making sure we can use our own instruments … to try and restore calm and order in Hong Kong.”
Lam also warned the protests — now in their fourth month — could hurt the city’s economy if they continue, saying “Hong Kong’s various sectors will enter a severe winter season.”
Lam also said the demonstrations could harm the city’s tourism industry, saying arrivals are down by half, according to The Associated Press.
The protests originally began over a bill that would allow some criminal suspects to be extradited to China. Even though the measure was withdrawn, they have continued, with demonstrators calling for Lam’s resignation and an independent investigation into police brutality against protesters.
Over the weekend, tens of thousands of demonstrators massed in the city, many of them defying Lam’s invocation of emergency powers to ban face masks. The weekend protests shut down the city’s public transit system and led to the arrest of 77 people for defying the anti-mask law, police said.
While clashes with police have been a common feature of the protests, demonstrators for the first time stood off with Chinese troops stationed in Hong Kong on Sunday.
The ongoing unrest has been exacerbated in recent weeks by allegations that President Trump agreed not to speak out in favor of the demonstrators during ongoing trade talks with China, as well as Beijing suspending its business ties with the Houston Rockets after the NBA team’s general manager tweeted in favor of the protests.