Chief Govt Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has sought to dispel worries from European small business teams about what they characterised as the erosion of Hong Kong’s freedoms and rule of regulation – even though at the exact time calling on the EU to maintain its hands off of the city’s inner affairs.
In an on line dialogue with far more than 20 organization chambers dependent in Europe and Hong Kong on Friday, Lam laid out the basis for continued bilateral ties between the EU and the town, calling for “mutual respect and non-interference into each other’s matters”.
The business chambers challenged Lam around the Beijing-imposed national safety law, expressing it had violated human legal rights, undermined the city’s significantly-vaunted legal process and tested EU-Hong Kong relations.
Get the latest insights and assessment from our Worldwide Effects newsletter on the major tales originating in China.
They also voiced issues that companies’ CEOs could get into problems less than the regulation for criticising the Hong Kong govt and its officials, a worry Lam sought to assuage.
“I have to problem that assertion,” Lam explained. “Those people strengths and fundamentals of Hong Kong are even now there: the freedoms, the legal rights loved by men and women, the independence of judiciary, the transparency of the lawful procedure, the accessibility to lawful help.”
“CEOs can criticise the governing administration and officials, which is independence of speech,” she extra.
The serious trouble, Lam managed, was the protest movement that sprang up next the introduction of her sick-fated extradition invoice, which she floated in 2019 only to withdraw it months afterwards right after it activated citywide unrest, road violence, and a wave of anti-federal government and anti-mainland sentiment.
In June of the pursuing 12 months, Beijing imposed the countrywide safety law on Hong Kong, banning in broad conditions secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with international countries or external features.
The EU has explained the nationwide stability legislation was a make any difference of grave issue and did not conform with China’s international commitments beneath the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 or Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Primary Law.
Other international locations, this kind of as the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, have also accused the law of trampling on Hong Kong’s special freedoms, with Washington even levying sanctions on area and mainland officials in excess of the legislation.
The European enterprise chambers, meanwhile, fearful aloud that the legal rights that experienced created Hong Kong thriving, significantly freedom of speech, had been being curtailed.
But Lam managed that the city’s enforcement of the stability regulation “is authorized, is right and transparent”.
“I would problem people who complain their rights of independence have been compromised, give me concrete proof of what kind of freedoms have been compromised,” she continued.
“You just have to read through the every day newspapers in Hong Kong, no matter whether it is in Chinese or SCMP (South China Early morning Submit), there is freedom of expression each individual day attacking the governing administration, criticising the mainland China or even criticising the president,” she mentioned.
Responding to worries that public gatherings these as protests and marches had been blocked about the past 12 months, Lam said it was vital simply because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“After that is in excess of, if persons want to utilize to have a public occasion, they can do it, the law enforcement will just problem a no-objection letter and they can go on to the streets once more to categorical their political views and discontent about the authorities,” she mentioned.
Organised by Hong Kong’s economic and trade business office in Berlin, Friday’s dialogue aimed to inspire European financial commitment in the town, and was also attended by a few ministers – Secretary for Commerce and Financial Development Edward Yau Tang-wah, Secretary for the Ecosystem Wong Kam-sing and Secretary for Economical Companies and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu.
Some collaborating groups, this sort of as the Belgium-Hong Kong Culture and the Netherlands-Hong Kong Enterprise Association, questioned about the city’s continued relevance and competitiveness in light-weight of the advancement of the Larger Bay Place – Beijing’s bold plan to integrate Hong Kong, Macau and 9 mainland cities into an economic engine with a full population of 72 million.
Commerce secretary Yau said the town would provide as a gateway both of those for mainland businesses to go abroad and for abroad companies to get into China.
The city’s strengths in this sort of locations as money and specialist expert services would differentiate it from other mainland cities, he extra.
Additional Articles from SCMP
This article at first appeared on the South China Early morning Article (www.scmp.com), the foremost news media reporting on China and Asia.
Copyright (c) 2021. South China Early morning Article Publishers Ltd. All legal rights reserved.