Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says the city’s basic freedoms will not be infringed by a new security law for the semi-autonomous city proposed by Beijing.
The proposed law, unveiled last week during a session of China’s national congress, would prevent and punish acts of “secession, subversion or terrorism activities” that threaten national security. The law would also allow Chinese national security organs to set up agencies in Hong Kong.
The legislation was widely condemned by business groups and Western nations as the death knell for Hong Kong’s status under the “one country, two systems” concept established after Britain handed over control of the financial hub to China in 1997, especially since the proposed law bypasses Hong Kong’s legislature.
But Lam told reporters Tuesday that ever since the handover, “whenever people worried about Hong Kong's freedoms of speech and freedoms of expressions and protest, time and again Hong Kong has proven that we uphold and preserve those values.”
The global financial hub was engulfed by massive and often violent anti-government protests during the last half of 2019, sparked initially by a controversial extradition bill which eventually evolved into a demand for greater democracy. Many Hong Kongers fear their autonomy is steadily being eroded by a central government on the mainland that is increasingly meddling in its affairs.
The protests came to a halt after the coronavirus outbreak that began in mainland China late last year spread into Hong Kong but have sporadically resumed in recent days as the outbreak subsided.