Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has asked to meet students in the city, as the embattled leader tries to fend off pressure from a month-long crisis over opposition to a proposed law that would allow extradition to mainland China.

Protesters stormed Hong Kong’s legislature on Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule. This followed mass demonstrations last month against Lam’s extradition bill, which critics fear could see Hong Kong citizens sent for trial in the mainland.

Lam, who is backed by Beijing, said she has paused efforts to push for the bill, but protesters are demanding a full withdrawal.

In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for Lam said late on Thursday Lam had “recently started inviting young people of different backgrounds for a meeting, including university students and young people who have participated in recent protests”.

The student union at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), one of eight major higher education institutions, turned down the offer, saying Lam had requested a closed-door meeting.

“The dialogue must be open to all Hong Kong citizens to participate, and allow everybody the right to speak,” the union said in a statement published on Facebook.

Lam’s spokeswoman said the chief executive hoped the HKUST student union would reconsider taking part in the meeting, which would be held in a “small-scale and closed-door manner” to facilitate an “in-depth and frank exchange of views”.

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