Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed a "high degree of confidence" in Hong Kong's unpopular leader Carrie Lam when the two met after months of increasingly violent protests in the semi-autonomous city.
Xi's show of support follows speculation that Beijing was preparing to remove Lam as city officials struggle to stem pro-democracy demonstrations that have rocked the financial center.
Their meeting in Shanghai on Monday followed another weekend of violence in Hong Kong, marked by a knife attack and the vandalism of an official Xinhua News Agency office in China.
Xi said Lam had "done a lot of hard work" and struggled to stabilize the situation in Hong Kong, according to a meeting Xinhua reading.
"Xi expressed the central government's high degree of confidence in Lam and the full recognition of her work and that of its governance team," the state news agency said.
"Ending violence, chaos and restoring order remains the most important task for Hong Kong today," said Xi.
Xi also called for “effective efforts” to improve people's lives and dialogue with all sectors of society.
China runs the city under a special “one country, two systems” model, which allows unrestrained Hong Kong freedoms since the British's handover to 1997.
But public anger has been mounting for years over fears that Beijing will begin to erode these freedoms, especially since Xi came to power.
The protesters issued a list of demands, including universal suffrage and an investigation into police abuses.
The Chinese Communist Party agreed at a leadership meeting last week to "improve" the way Hong Kong's chief executive and top officials are appointed and dismissed, but provided no further details.
The party also warned that it would "never tolerate" any challenge to "one country, two systems."
Source: AFP / Jiji Press
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