Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam warned presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden to “fully assess” the relationship of the next U.S. administration with Chinese territory and not allow “arbitrary political repression” to affect the interests of American companies.
Lam is expected in Beijing on Tuesday afternoon as she asks the central government for help to revive Hong Kong’s faltering economy in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic.
At her weekly press conference on Tuesday, Lam was asked about the elections in the United States, which she described as “a choice to be made by the American electorate” and as part of “America’s internal affairs.
It was up to the next American president and his team to consider how the government would view US-China relations and the importance of Hong Kong within those relations, she added.
But the 63-year-old Beijing envoy made it clear that she expected the next U.S. president to make a thorough assessment of Hong Kong’s position in the broader context of relations with China.
Lam described the Special Administrative Region’s relations with the United States as “long-term and mutually beneficial” before citing the current U.S. trade surplus with Hong Kong and the American financial institutions that share in the city’s success.
“I hope that the next U.S. administration will fully assess its relationship with Hong Kong, including the interests of U.S. companies in Hong Kong and the interests of the many workers they employ, and that it will not allow arbitrary political repression to have an undue impact [on Hong Kong],” she said.
Lam was also questioned about the recent arrests of eight pro-democracy legislators on Sunday and Monday for a chamber raid in May.
Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo in a tweet on Monday criticised the Hong Kong government, calling it an “attempt to intimidate pro-democracy representatives”.
We strongly condemn the arrest of 8 pan-democratic Hong Kong politicians. This attempt to intimidate pro-democracy representatives is another example of the complicity of the Hong Kong government with the authoritarian CCP. We stand by the people of Hong Kong.
– Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 2, 2020
“Hong Kong is very proud of our rule of law,” Lam said in his response. “Each of us must respect the rule of law and refrain from criticizing the judges and their verdicts without any basis”.
“Everyone is equal before the law. No one, not even the chief executive, is above the law,” she said.
Lam said that any indictment would be made by Hong Kong’s independent judiciary if there was enough evidence.
Hong Kong’s Head of Government is expected to meet with senior Chinese officials during her three-day visit to Beijing to discuss proposals for increased central government support for the financial center during the pandemic.
Discussions will also cover Hong Kong’s future economic integration with the mainland and plans for the Greater Bay Area of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.
In her opening speech at the start of Hong Kong Legal Week 2020 on Monday, Lam particularly praised the new national security law that Beijing passed this summer.
She called the implementation of the law “both timely and essential”. The law provides that the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers will be punishable by the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
“Since then, law [and order]and stability in society have been restored and we now have an improved system that allows Hong Kong to implement the ‘one country, two systems’ principle accurately and comprehensively,” she said in a memo on her government’s website.
“Despite unwarranted attacks by some foreign politicians and governments, I and my government will continue to implement the National Security Law steadfastly without fear or concern,” Lam added.