Hong Kong’s leader on Sunday promised to do a better job connecting with the city’s young people, many of whom have joined the heated anti-government protests that have gripped the city for more than two months. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, speaking at the closing ceremony of a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) training camp for university students, stressed that her administration placed great value on its dialogue and engagement with local youth. “My colleagues and I will be more patient to get in touch with youth from different classes to listen to their voices,” she said in Mandarin. “We hope that we can fight together to build a better Hong Kong.” Lam’s olive branch came as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in several districts – including Sham Shui Po, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui – to protest against the government’s handling of a now-abandoned extradition bill and the turmoil that followed. Lam also warned that Hong Kong was facing internal and external threats, and said the city faced a huge threat of an economic downturn. Separately, Tam Yiu-chung, the city’s representative to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), China’s top legislative body, accused protesters of trying to force the central government to step in and handle the protests. “Some people seem to want to deliberately provoke the central government to deploy the People’s Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong, so everyone will perish together and everything will be destroyed,” Tam said on a radio programme on Sunday. Tam said he did not want such destruction to become reality, adding that he hoped Hong Kong could handle the protest crisis on its own. He said the NPCSC could declare a state of emergency when necessary and extend national laws to Hong Kong. But he said such a step would only come in an extreme situation, such as the Hong Kong government losing control. Also on Sunday, two senior Hong Kong ministers warned of the damage caused by the ongoing protest movement in the city. This series of violent acts ... is the most serious, widespread and destructive since the handover Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po pointed out in his blog that Hong Kong’s imports and exports had significantly weakened and internal growth had slowed. Chan said the recent clashes had caused declines in revenue for the retail, catering and transport industries. Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, meanwhile, appealed to all Hongkongers to defend the rule of law, support the police force and not engage in violence. “This series of violent acts that undermines social peace is the most serious, widespread and destructive since the handover, pushing [Hong Kong], which has always enjoyed the reputation of a safe city, to a very dangerous edge,” he wrote in his weekly blog. Cheung noted that the Independent Police Complaints Council held a special meeting on July 5 to discuss the large-scale protests between June 9 and July 2, and the actions taken by the police. He said a report on that matter would be submitted the chief executive and made public. Cheung said the complaints council would maintain in close communication with the Complaints Against Police Office regarding the major protests after July 2. He said the council would announce plans after internal discussions on how to handle such incidents in mid-August.