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Carrie Lam

Uphold China’s national security and development interests, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam tells city in National Day speech

Speaking before 4,000 business heavyweights and local politicians, she also thanks Beijing for supporting her administration’s work in policy areas ranging from youth to tourism

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 1:58pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 8:44pm

Hong Kong must not forget its mission of upholding China’s national “sovereignty, security and development interests”, the city’s top official said on Monday, as it “develops and shares prosperity” with the country.

Addressing about 4,000 business leaders and local politicians at an annual National Day reception, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also thanked Beijing for supporting her administration’s work in policy areas such as youth, regional integration, innovation and technology, and trade and commerce.

Lam’s speech came a week after the city’s security minister made the unprecedented decision to ban the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party.

The chief executive did not touch on the issue of separatism. But in her nine-minute speech, Lam said Beijing’s support in recent years had “created new areas of growth” for Hong Kong’s economy, opened up an even larger market for professional services, and provided more opportunities for local young people to “pursue their careers”.

Lam mentioned the “one country, two systems” under which Hong Kong enjoys significant autonomy from Beijing. Alluding to President Xi Jinping’s speech in the city on July 1 last year, she likened the concept of one country to the roots of a tree.

“For a tree to grow and be luxuriant, its roots must run deep and strong,” she noted, saying the principle was advanced “first and foremost to realise and uphold national unity”.

“Today, as we celebrate National Day, let us not forget the original spirit of ‘one country, two systems’ but bear in mind the mission of upholding our country’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” Lam continued. “Let us develop jointly and share prosperity with our country and embrace a brighter future together.”

In her speech, the chief executive called this year’s National Day “particularly meaningful” as it coincided with the 40th anniversary of the country’s reforms of 1978, and came soon after the opening of the city’s section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link on September 23.

Lam further stated that Hong Kong needed to “keep reinforcing and enhancing its global competitiveness” as well as “seize the opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative and the development of the ... Greater Bay Area” – references to China’s trading network and regional economic integration strategy, respectively.

The guests attending the reception included Lam’s predecessor, Leung Chun-ying; Beijing’s foreign ministry commissioner, Xie Feng; the central government’s liaison office chief, Wang Zhimin; and permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal Mr Justice Roberto Ribeiro, who attended as acting chief justice because Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li has been on leave since September 22.

Prior to the reception, the attendees witnessed a flag-raising ceremony at the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa was absent from the events.

A spokesman for Tung’s office said the former top official could not attend because he was en route to Hong Kong after attending a meeting on Sunday in Beijing of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top political advisory body. Tung and Leung are vice-chairmen of the CPPCC.

Before the flag-raising ceremony, former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and about 20 other members of the League of Social Democrats marched from Wan Chai MTR station to Expo Drive East. They called for “the end of one-party dictatorship” in China, and demanded Beijing release political dissidents from jail.

After the reception, Tam Yiu-chung, the city’s sole delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the country’s top legislative body, said that to fulfil their mission of upholding China’s national security, Hong Kong officials needed to get ready to enact such legislation.

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The government “should start preparing because it will be difficult and complicated”, Tam added.

Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, Hong Kong must enact its own law to prohibit acts such as “treason, secession, sedition” and subversion. The last attempt to introduce the legislation in 2003 was shelved after half a million people took to the streets in protest, voicing worries about losing their civil liberties.

Meanwhile on Sunday, at a national day reception in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reaffirmed that the central government would commit to “one country two systems” and “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong”, as well as the policies of “Macau people administering Macau” and “high degree of autonomy”.

“We shall act in accordance to the constitution and the Basic Law,” Li said, adding that with the opportunity of the Greater Bay Area development, there would be deepened exchanges and co-operation with Hong Kong and Macau.