Main Government Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has sought to dispel concerns from European organization teams above what they characterised as the erosion of Hong Kong’s freedoms and rule of law – while at the same time calling on the EU to continue to keep its hands off of the city’s inner affairs.
In an on the internet dialogue with far more than 20 small business chambers dependent in Europe and Hong Kong on Friday, Lam laid out the foundation for ongoing bilateral ties concerning the EU and the city, calling for “mutual respect and non-interference into each other’s matters”.
The business chambers challenged Lam above the Beijing-imposed national safety regulation, declaring it experienced violated human legal rights, undermined the city’s significantly-vaunted legal system and examined EU-Hong Kong relations.
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They also voiced worries that companies’ CEOs could get into hassle less than the legislation for criticising the Hong Kong government and its officers, a worry Lam sought to assuage.
“I have to challenge that assertion,” Lam claimed. “All those strengths and fundamentals of Hong Kong are nonetheless there: the freedoms, the legal rights savored by folks, the independence of judiciary, the transparency of the legal method, the accessibility to legal assist.”
“CEOs can criticise the govt and officials, which is freedom of speech,” she added.
The actual issue, Lam maintained, was the protest movement that sprang up subsequent the introduction of her sick-fated extradition bill, which she floated in 2019 only to withdraw it months afterwards after it triggered citywide unrest, avenue violence, and a wave of anti-authorities and anti-mainland sentiment.
In June of the adhering to year, Beijing imposed the countrywide protection legislation on Hong Kong, banning in broad terms secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with overseas countries or exterior elements.
The EU has mentioned the national stability regulation was a make any difference of grave concern and did not conform with China’s worldwide commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 or Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Primary Law.
Other international locations, this sort of as the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, have also accused the legislation of trampling on Hong Kong’s distinctive freedoms, with Washington even levying sanctions on neighborhood and mainland officers about the laws.
The European company chambers, in the meantime, apprehensive aloud that the legal rights that had made Hong Kong profitable, particularly liberty of speech, were staying curtailed.
But Lam preserved that the city’s enforcement of the security regulation “is authorized, is good and clear”.
“I would obstacle folks who complain their rights of independence have been compromised, give me concrete evidence of what sort of freedoms have been compromised,” she ongoing.
“You just have to go through the everyday newspapers in Hong Kong, no matter whether it is in Chinese or SCMP (South China Early morning Write-up), there is freedom of expression just about every day attacking the govt, criticising the mainland China or even criticising the president,” she stated.
Responding to issues that public gatherings these as protests and marches experienced been blocked above the previous 12 months, Lam mentioned it was required due to the fact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“At the time that is above, if people want to utilize to have a public function, they can do it, the police will just concern a no-objection letter and they can go on to the streets yet again to specific their political sights and discontent about the federal government,” she said.
Organised by Hong Kong’s economic and trade workplace in Berlin, Friday’s dialogue aimed to encourage European expense in the town, and was also attended by a few ministers – Secretary for Commerce and Economic Progress Edward Yau Tang-wah, Secretary for the Atmosphere Wong Kam-sing and Secretary for Economical Expert services and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu.
Some taking part teams, these types of as the Belgium-Hong Kong Society and the Netherlands-Hong Kong Company Affiliation, questioned about the city’s ongoing relevance and competitiveness in light of the development of the Higher Bay Place – Beijing’s ambitious plan to integrate Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland towns into an financial engine with a full population of 72 million.
Commerce secretary Yau claimed the city would serve as a gateway both for mainland providers to go overseas and for overseas companies to get into China.
The city’s strengths in these types of regions as monetary and skilled providers would differentiate it from other mainland metropolitan areas, he extra.
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