Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng has said that Chinese officials paid close attention to her while she received medical treatment for an injury sustained at a protest.
Cheng returned to Hong Kong last Tuesday, more than two weeks after she fractured her wrist while being jostled by pro-democracy protesters in London. She said the Chinese Embassy in the British capital arranged for her to fly to Beijing for further check-ups and treatment, before returning to Hong Kong.
A report in the Financial Times last Thursday cited three anonymous sources as saying that Cheng “had wanted to remain [in London] and resign from her government post until she was ordered home by Beijing.” But Cheng on Wednesday dismissed the report as “pure speculation.”
On Thursday, local Chinese-language newspapers Sing Tao Daily and Hong Kong Economics Times published separate interviews with Cheng, who expressed gratitude to the Chinese officials for their care.
Cheng told the Hong Kong Economics Times that while she was recovering in the UK, staff members at the Chinese embassy brought her millet porridge for breakfast in case she did not like British food. “They expressed their care for me through such small details,” she said.
Cheng said that while she was in Beijing, a Chinese officer accompanied her to medical check-ups, brought fresh fruits to the hospital for her, and chatted with her. Others brought dumplings to the hospital for her. “[They] were afraid that I could not take care of myself because I was alone,” she added.
The justice minister denied reports that she asked to resign, saying that stepping down would be irresponsible. “I am impressed by the ability [of the Financial Times] to cook up such stories,” she said.
Cheng also told Sing Tao Daily that Chinese officials had arranged for her to stay in two hospitals in Beijing. “[It made me] realise the importance of having a country as strong as ours to provide assistance,” she said.
Upon Cheng’s return to Hong Kong last Tuesday, she declared a new residential property with a car parking space in Central and Western District to the Executive Council. She said the residence was owned by her husband and was self-occupied since last Tuesday.
The move sparked questions over whether Cheng was moving out of her official residence on 19 Severn Road on the Peak.
The Department of Justice told HK01 that Cheng had made the declaration in accordance with established mechanisms, and her residence on the Peak could be used for official events if needed, without directly confirming or denying whether she had moved out.
Cheng was one of the lowest-rated government officials in a public opinion survey released in October after months of large-scale protests in Hong Kong sparked by a now-withdrawn proposal to draw up an extradition agreement with China.
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