In this Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping poses with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam for a photo during a meeting in Shanghai, China. Lam is here for the second China International Import Expo (CIIE). (Ju Peng/Xinhua via AP)

HONG KONG (AP) — A senior Hong Kong official says Chinese President Xi Jinping’s surprise meeting with the territory’s leader, Carrie Lam, is a “vote of confidence” in her government’s ability to tackle five months of anti-government protests.

Xi met Lam on the sidelines of a trade event in Shanghai on Monday night amid signals from China’s central government that it may tighten its grip on Hong Kong to quell the unrest that had at times challenged Chinese rule.

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said Tuesday the fact that Xi found time to meet Lam “really is a vote of confidence in ourselves.”

He said Xi has “a high degree of confidence” in Lam and her team and “all these are pretty reassuring to us.”