Hong Kong leader condemns US law and promises economic relief

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Hong Kong‘s chief executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the Human Rights and Democracy Act, passed last week in the United States, was “wholly unnecessary” and that she “strongly objected” to the legislation as she announced a fourth round of relief measures to boost the city’s battered economy.

The legislation requires the US State Department to certify at least annually that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to justify its favourable trading terms, and threatens sanctions for human rights violations.

“The impact currently is on confidence … because corporates will be worried about the actions the US government may take in the future after they review this legislation,” Lam said.

On Monday, China said it was suspending visits to Hong Kong by the US military and would impose unspecified sanctions on non-profit groups that it said had acted “badly” over the Hong Kong unrest.

Lam said approvals for such visits were a matter for China’s foreign ministry.

Protests resume

Hong Kong has been rocked by six months of sometimes violent unrest in the biggest challenge to Chinese stability since the pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The protesters’ demands include universal suffrage, an investigation into alleged police brutality in handling the protests, and an end to Beijing’s perceived efforts to undermine democratic freedoms promised when the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997.

Hong Kong Lam

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has offered more economic measures but remains reluctant to offer concessions to the protesters [Vincent Thian/AP Photo]

China denies interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” framework guaranteeing the territory a high degree of autonomy. Beijing blames foreign countries for inciting unrest.

Activists have pledged to hold lunch-time rallies throughout the week after a mass demonstration over the weekend when police fired tear gas to disperse crowds of protesters.

Hundreds of office workers gathered in Hong Kong’s business district on Monday in support of the pro-democracy movement after it scored a landslide victory in district polls last month.

Lam has renewed her appeals for peace but her administration has failed to offer any concessions to the protest movement despite the outcome of the election.

Demonstrations are planned in districts across the city on Tuesday during the lunch break, with further protests planned in the evening.

SOURCE: Reuters news agency


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