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.” “
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
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 mainland officials believe that the “one country, two systems” principle is the “best institutional arrangement to ensure Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.”
Alongside Beijing, Lam said she looks forward to “the continuation of what is in the Basic Law, including support for individual rights and freedoms, the exercise of the capitalist system in Hong Kong, and all the high degree of autonomy granted 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.
“Freedoms are not absolute,” Lam told CNBC. “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.”
Before the second anniversary of the enactment of the National Security Law, the city is still struggling Increase the departure of foreign talent and international operations, but Lam said it was a temporary picture.
Hong Kong’s resilience is on full display with an increasing number of people traveling to the city since quarantine periods were eased to one week and the ban on travelers from nine countries including the United Kingdom and the United States was lifted on April 1, Lam said.
Daily arrivals at Hong Kong International Airport have multiplied tenfold, to 3,000 per day, compared to 300 when the full set of restrictions were in place before April, according to Lam.
Lam said strict containment strategies for Covid-19 in Hong Kong were necessary to protect Hong Kong’s main travel corridor to the mainland, but denied that it was just a copy of China’s approach to China to stamp out Covid that led to Entire cities like Shanghai have been shut down and economically paralyzed.
“The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has a high degree of autonomy in deciding how to address the public health crisis. But the reality is that our people need to travel to the mainland, but at the same time, we need a very strong international connection,” she said.
“That’s why, for the past two and a half years, we’ve been trying to strike a balance that will enable us to achieve both goals.”
In some of her last parting words before she left office to make room for her Hong Kong’s new leader, John Lee, On July 1, Lam said she would ignore the sanctions imposed on her by the United States and other dignitaries in 2020 over her handling of the city’s protests against liberties.
“I think those who are sanctioning other people, in other places, should consider using this tool to achieve their goals,” she said.
“Me and 11 other Hong Kong officials [were] Aggressive and unreasonable punishment by the US government, but it will not frighten us. I have no regrets and no problem with that.”
“I would also like to give this advice to my successor and other high officials: that in order to fulfill our duty of loyalty, we must not be afraid – whether by abuse, by force, by penalties, or by other means.”
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