Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.
Lam added her voice to an unprecedented barrage of statements by Beijing and local officials, and former city leaders defending the legislation and seeking to reassure residents, investors, and diplomats about Hong Kong freedoms.
“There is no need for us to worry,” Lam told a regular weekly news conference.
Like others supporting the legislation, she did not explain how the freedoms that Hong Kong enjoys will be upheld.
“In the last 23 years, whenever people worried about Hong Kong’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression and protest, time and again, Hong Kong has proven that we uphold and preserve those values,” she said.
“The best thing is to see the legislation in front of us and to understand why at this point in time Hong Kong needs this piece of legislation.”
According to a draft proposal last week, the legislation aims to tackle secession, subversion, and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in one of the world’s biggest financial hubs.
The United States, Britain, the European Union, and others expressed concerns about the laws, and Washington warned Hong Kong could lose the preferential treatment that makes it a vibrant interface between communist China and the West.
Hong Kong is governed under a “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees it a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not seen in mainland China, including freedom of expression and the right to protest.