Hong Kong’s national security law and electoral changes have brought the city “back on the right track,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in her annual policy address on Wednesday.
According to Hong Kong’s top leader, who was appointed by Beijing, the changes have ushered in a “favorable era” for Hong Kong to plan for its future.
Massive anti-government protests erupted in 2019 over a now-withdrawn extradition bill, and the demonstrations sometimes turned violent. The proposal of the national security law last year reignited mass demonstrations, but the law was eventually passed.
In May of this year, Hong Kong’s legislature passed a bill that, among other measures, reduced the number of legislative seats that are directly elected by Hong Kong voters to only 20 out of 90, and set up a committee that screens candidates to ensure they are “patriots.”
With the implementation of the National Security Law and improvement to our electoral system, chaos has ended and social order has been restored,” she said, according an official English translation of her remarks. “We are now embracing a new era where we can focus on economic development.”
She reiterated that point several times during her two-hour long speech.
Hong Kong, a former British colony that was handed over to China in 1997, was promised autonomy for 50 years.
The Chinese financial hub is governed under the “one country, two systems” framework and has freedoms that other Chinese cities do not have, such as limited election rights and a largely separate legal and economic system.
‘Back on track’
Lam touted Wednesday’s calm policy speech as a “clear manifestation that the Hong Kong [Special Administrative Region] has got back on the right track of ‘one country, two systems.’” She praised the national security law and electoral reforms under pro-Beijing lawmakers in the city for the “timely curb on the chaos in the city.”
“Any accusation that these two major initiatives of the central government have undermined ‘one country, two systems’ is nonsense and groundless,” she said.