Hong Kong leader calls out 'double standards' on national security, points to US

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, wearing a mask, speaks during a news conference over the new national security legislation in Hong Kong June 2, 2020. — Reuters pic
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, wearing a mask, speaks during a news conference over the new national security legislation in Hong Kong June 2, 2020. — Reuters pic

HONG KONG, June 2 — Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam accused foreign governments of “double standards” in their reaction to Beijing's plans to impose national security laws on the city, pointing to anti-police brutality protests in the United States.

In her first public appearance after Washington said it will remove Hong Kong's preferential treatment in U. law in response to Beijing's proposal, Lam warned countries threatening actions against the city they may hurt their own interests.

“They are very concerned about their own national security, but on our national security...they look through tinted glasses,” Lam told a weekly news conference.

“In the US, we see how the riots were being handled by the local governments, compared to the stance they adopted when almost the same riots happened in Hong Kong last year.”

Having lost patience with Hong Kong after large-scale and often-violent pro-democracy protests last year plunged the Chinese-ruled city into its biggest crisis in decades, Beijing authorities last month advanced plans to introduce laws tackling secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference.

The laws could also see Chinese intelligence agencies set up shop in the global financial hub.

US President Donald Trump, saying Hong Kong was no longer sufficiently autonomous from Beijing as promised at the time of the 1997 handover of the territory by Britain, said Hong Kong will no longer be treated differently from mainland China in US law.

Hong Kong and Beijing authorities have repeatedly insisted rights and freedoms will be preserved, remarks echoed by Lam on Tuesday. She said “public concerns” about the legislation were understandable as a draft was yet to be finalised.

In Washington, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse peaceful demonstrators near the White House yesterday as Trump vowed a massive show of force to end violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody.

Dozens of cities across the United States remain under curfews not seen since riots after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Police in some places were also seen joining marches and kneeling in solidarity with the protesters.

Protesters in Hong Kong have mainly been asking for universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into how police handled the demonstrations.

Hong Kong, where protesters reject Lam's description of the anti-government demonstrations as riots, has not enforced curfews. Police have been accused of disproportionate use of force, which officials have denied. — Reuters

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