Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam has vowed to tackle pro-independence forces and foster the Chinese identity among toddlers, less than two weeks after she dismissed claims that Hong Kong independence had become widespread.

“I believe most people in Hong Kong never consider independence to be feasible. The next SAR government will strictly carry out its duties according to the law, because all pro-independence behaviour violates local laws. We must strictly enforce the law,” she said Tuesday in an interview with Chinese state media CCTV.

Carrie Lam. Photo: CCTV screenshot.

Stressing that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, Lam said her government will strengthen public education over the “danger” Hong Kong independence poses to children and the city’s stability and prosperity.

She also proposed teaching toddlers to identify with being Chinese as an effort to foster a stronger national identity among Hong Kong’s future generations.

“We should make Chinese history a compulsory subject for junior high school students to learn about the Chinese culture. Outside school, diverse activities or job opportunities can be provided for Hong Kong youth to learn about the country’s latest developments,” she said.

“There is no conflict between identifying with Hong Kong and having a concept of belonging to a country.”

Children at the Hong Kong Airport. File Photo: GovHK.


The remarks contrasted with her own comment less than two weeks ago in an i-Cable interview, in which she said Beijing may be anxious about the rise of Hong Kong independence because it has doubts over the implementation of the One Country, Two Systems policy.

“But I often tell the central government officials or friends in mainland China that I have reservation about whether Hong Kong independence has become a trend of thought,” she said.

“Maybe it is just a minority of people – for reasons I do not know – who brought up this impracticable and wrong idea.”

Three days after the interview, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in a strongly-worded statement that the government must nip any form of separatism in the bud.

“When it comes to national sovereignty issues, we must take a clear-cut stance that Hong Kong is part of the country, that China exercises sovereignty over Hong Kong,” he said.

See also: Ex-Xinhua Hong Kong chief blames separatism on 150 years of ‘colonial brainwashing’, urges national education

Carrie Lam. Photo: i-Cable screenshot.

On Saturday, Lam said on a Commercial Radio programme that her role as chief executive would be to serve as a bridge and resolve any misunderstanding between Hongkongers and Beijing.

“I can tell Hong Kong people that I will definitely not hide anything from them or from Beijing,” she said. “I am a forthcoming character. I will present an accurate and full picture [to Beijing].”

Critics have challenged Lam’s remarks over the Chinese identity when her husband and two sons hold British nationality and had lived in the UK for many years until recently. Her younger son is currently studying in the UK.

Lam was also embroiled in a number of controversies during her decades-long service in the government, including the non-transparent manner in which she pushed through the HK$3.5 billion Palace Museum project.

In her CCTV interview, Lam said the museum project will help promote Hong Kong’s cultural sector, which will in turn benefit the city’s economy.

She won the small-circle leadership race in March with 777 votes out of 1,194, and is set to assume office on July 1.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.