Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam defended China’s move to impose sweeping national security laws in the territory amid renewed protests and growing international concern over the impending legislation.
Ms. Lam asserted that local residents support the planned legislation, while rejecting criticism from foreign governments, saying they “have no place” interfering in the territory.
Critics say it would limit the city’s freedoms as it would ban treason, secession, sedition and subversion.
But in her weekly press conference, Ms. Lam said it was a “responsible” move to protect the law-abiding majority.
She said it was untrue that the new security law would ban street protests or calls for her dismissal, and pledged that Hong Kong’s rights would be preserved.
These rights – set out in the Basic Law which is Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – have been in place since it was handed back to China in 1997 by the UK.
The Basic Law guarantees certain freedoms to the territory, such as the right to protest, which do not exist on the mainland.
At the weekend, there was a brief return to the protests seen last year, with police firing tear gas as thousands of people took to the streets.
It is not actually a law yet but a proposal – being called a “draft decision” – that will be put to a vote at China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), this week.
Once that vote is passed, the proposal will be fleshed out into a draft law and could be in force by the end of June.
Ever since it was announced, it has faced fierce criticism internationally, but Ms Lam said other countries had “no place in interfering with this arrangement”.
No country would tolerate flawed national security legislation, she said, and Hong Kong, as part of China, was no different. (Source: BBC)