Hong Kong is just another Chinese city: Carrie Lam’s reaction to US report proves it

  • If the Hong Kong chief executive wants to convince the outside world that ‘one country, two systems’ isn’t working, her statement will do the trick
  • The proper response would have been to engage an independent commission to study the findings of the report and make any necessary recommendations
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2018, 10:00pm

Answering questions from the press following the damning report issued by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor denied all allegations that “one country, two systems” was under attack, accused the US commission of seeing things through a “coloured lens”, and then finished by trying to strong-arm the US into not changing its view of Hong Kong (“Change to US trade policy ‘unfair’ to city”, November 15).

Regrettably, this was the precisely wrong response.

The US is our second-largest trading partner. As of 2018, 290 American companies have their regional headquarters here. The US Commission’s report spans 525 pages and is meticulously referenced throughout – not something that can be waved aside with a single press release and a few familiar platitudes.

The proper response here would have been for Lam to engage an independent commission to study the findings of the report and to make any necessary recommendations. That would really allay the US’ growing concerns over Hong Kong’s shrinking autonomy, as well as show, positively, that “one country, two systems” is working.

Instead, what our government did was go on the defensive, lash out on perceived bias, antagonise the US government and issue a blanket denial of all possible human rights contraventions.

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It so happens that in comments made one day before Ms Lam’s answers to the press, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had lambasted the US for seeing China through “coloured lenses”, making false accusations against Hong Kong’s autonomy and interfering with its internal affairs.

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Compare this to what Lam and the Hong Kong government had to say: the allegations of diminishing autonomy are false, seen through “coloured lenses”, and “foreign legislatures should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of the HKSAR”.

If the fear is that Hong Kong is “becoming like any other Chinese city”, Lam has just confirmed it.

That she is now trying to intimidate the world’s foremost economic superpower into “thinking twice” about reclassifying Hong Kong speaks volumes about her unfortunate political naivety. Worse, it adds fuel to the ongoing trade war between China and the US.

If we do eventually end up in the crossfire, I fear we will have no one else to blame.

Ronald Chiu, Kowloon