July 5, 2022

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Carrie Lam: Hong Kong has not become just another Chinese city

Carrie Lam: Hong Kong has not become just another Chinese city

Carrie Lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, speaks at a press conference in Hong Kong, southern China, February 4, 2022.

Loi Siu Wei | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the national security law was “absolutely necessary” to ensure Hong Kong’s stability.

In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Lam said: “Looking back, I believe that the enactment and implementation of the National Security Act, as well as subsequent improvements to the electoral system, are absolutely necessary to ensure the continued stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.”

“And if I may just add, stability is very important for Hong Kong to maintain and enhance its status as an international financial center,” Hong Kong’s chief executive told CNBC’s Emily Tan and Martin Song.

Lam also said that the exodus of expatriates and foreigners from Hong Kong in recent months was not due to the recently enacted National Security Law – which some see as a tightening of its grip on the city – but as a result of the strict control of the epidemic and measures that “are making people very impatient.” “

Sometimes you need tough situations [protests] To weaken people, this is something we must do. “Enact the National Security Act and subsequent improvements to increase stability,” Lam said on CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia.”

“Stability is important to maintaining Hong Kong as a financial centre. Now that stability is guaranteed.”

When people complain about the lack of freedom, this is not the situation in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is more free than ever…

Carrie Lam

Hong Kong CEO

After Hong Kong’s reunification with mainland China in 1997, laws were put in place to ensure that the “one country, two systems” principle could be practiced for 50 years – or until 2047.

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Lam insisted that Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy remain unchanged and did not end before 2047, despite propaganda encouraged by some Western media.

“Sometimes I find it very disturbing that a lot of the Western media is trying to portray Hong Kong as just another Chinese city and has no proper recognition or understanding of one country, two systems,” she said.

She said Beijing officials believe the “one country, two systems” principle is “the best institutional arrangement to ensure Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.”

Lam said she, along with Beijing, is looking forward to “the continuation of what is in the Basic Law, including the upholding of individual rights and freedoms, the exercise of the capitalist system in Hong Kong, and all the high degrees of autonomy that have been brought to Hong Kong.”

“When people complain about the lack of freedom, that’s not the situation in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is as free as ever, whether it’s freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, media, etc.”

Lam said that despite the protests and riots, the implementation of the national security law and the previous extradition bill was necessary for Hong Kong to come to terms with the right laws to protect national interests.

She said this is critical because Hong Kong has yet to establish its own institutions and legal systems to protect national interests, security and sovereignty more than two decades after handing over power to China.

Part of this liberalization, Lam said, was growing pains as seen with other protests prior to 2019, including the 79-day Occupy central movement in 2014 when protesters demanded direct universal suffrage to choose the city’s leader.

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“Liberties are not absolute,” Lam said. “Freedoms must be somewhat restricted, where there is a public interest. And no public interest can be higher than the national interest.”

“Therefore every place should have rules and laws to protect national sovereignty, security and the development interests of the nation. Before the enactment of the National Security Law, Hong Kong was a vacuum in regards to these institutions and laws.”

This is an evolving story. . Please check back for updates