Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen used the return of Li Shaomin to promote Hong Kong's freedoms in New York - hours after the spy-case academic criticised the SAR Government as having been unhelpful. As New Yorkers digested an article from Dr Li in the New York Times claiming the Government had not done enough to help Hong Kong academics detained in China, Mr Tsang said the academic's return to his job at City University after being convicted on the mainland of spying for Taiwan showed 'actions speak louder than words'. 'I can tell you that Hong Kong's promised high degree of autonomy has been a promise kept,' he told an Asia Society lunch. 'Our national leaders have scrupulously honoured this commitment with their hands-off approach.' Dr Li, a US citizen, was deported from the mainland after his conviction in July. After a brief stay in Washington, he was allowed to return to Hong Kong. Mr Tsang said: '[Dr Li] arrived in Hong Kong, surprisingly, all of a sudden, while we were working out our options . . . So we looked to our law books. He had a valid visa. So he was allowed in. 'That was not necessarily a popular thing to do for some people . . . who have criticised us for allowing someone who was convicted of spying into Hong Kong.' The issue, he said, was one of several - including the Falun Gong and press freedom that 'amply illustrate' the faithful implementation of 'one country, two systems' and Hong Kong people ruling the SAR. Outlining an array of challenges ahead for the territory as the mainland developed, Mr Tsang said: 'We must remain a free, open and plural society, firmly rooted in the rule of law upheld by a respected and world class judiciary. 'We must continue to provide a level playing field for business, where acumen and ability count rather than contacts and corruption.' Mr Tsang acknowledged that filling the gap left by predecessor Anson Chan Fang On-sang was a 'tad tricky'.