Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday she would not rule out getting help from mainland China to deal with pro-democracy protests, but that she feels strongly Hong Kong "should find the solution ourselves."
"That is also the position of the central government that Hong Kong should tackle the problem on her own, but 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 at a news conference.
Lam said she would carefully assess whether to institute more measures under a colonial-era emergency law she invoked last week to criminalize wearing face masks in Hong Kong.
A police spokesman said Tuesday that officers had arrested a total of 77 people for violating the mask ban, and Lam said it is too early to say whether the law is effective.
The decision served to fuel more anger among protesters, with tens of thousands of people turning out for fresh demonstrations in defiance of the face mask ban.
Face masks have become common during protests in Hong Kong, even at peaceful marches, as people fear retribution from government officials or that their identities could be shared with mainland China.
Many Hong Kong residents also wear face masks to protect against pollution or infection, such as the outbreak of the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that struck the city in 2003.
For the last four months, the city has been engulfed in unrest as democracy advocates engaged in increasingly confrontational tactics to fight against what they see as China's efforts to restrict Hong Kong's autonomy and civil liberties.