Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has appealed for citizens to show “full understanding” and “staunch support” for the national security law in an open letter published in newspapers on Friday.

It came a day after China’s parliament approved plans to impose legislation to criminalise secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong. The law would also allow Chinese national security agencies to operate in the city.

carrie lam
Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

In her opening sentences, Lam described Hong Kong as “the home we all treasure,” defined by the “Lion Rock spirit” in which citizens would set aside differences to pursue their dreams together.

Echoing her previous statements, Lam claimed the local community had been “traumatised” over the past year by escalating violence which posed “terrorist threat” to the city. She accused opposition groups that advocate for Hong Kong independence and self-determination as “pleading for interference” by external forces and “begging for sanctions” against the city, which Lam said disregarded the interests of Hong Kong people and the country.

“External forces have intensified their interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, passed laws relating to Hong Kong and flagrantly glorified the illegal acts of radicals,” she wrote.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that Hong Kong is no longer considered autonomous from China. The city could lose its trading and economic privileges as a result.

The Hong Kong leader said the current legal system and enforcement mechanisms are “inadequate,” leaving the city “defenceless.” The approved draft decision on national security legislation – which is to be inserted into the city’s mini-constitution, bypassing local legislature – is an exercise of authority and duty by the central authorities, Lam said.

The laws also demonstrates Beijing’s commitment to “fully and accurately” implement One Country, Two Systems, and their care for Hongkongers, she added.

“Hong Kong has become a gaping hole in national security, and our city’s prosperity and stability are at risk,” Lam said. “I appeal for your full understanding and staunch support for the Decision passed by the National People’s Congress.”

Beijing’s unprecedented move has alarmed democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China.

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Last Sunday, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai to protest against the national security law. Similar scenes occurred on Wednesday as protesters gathered in opposition to China’s draft legislation, as well as the national anthem bill, which passed its second reading in the Legislative Council on Thursday.

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.