Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said Hong Kong needs to prove its residents are “responsible and sensible” citizens of China in order to preserve its promised way of life and systems.

Her comments on Tuesday came on the one year anniversary of a huge march against her administration’s ill-fated plans to enact an extradition agreement with mainland China. The movement snowballed into months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests that further soured police-public relations and affected the economy.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam weekly press conference June 9 2020
Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

“The immediate issue is to prove that One Country, Two Systems works well in Hong Kong. And to prove that Hong Kong people are reasonable and sensible citizens of the People’s Republic of China, that we could be trusted to continue to have our own way of life, and our own way of system within the whole country,” she said ahead of her weekly Executive Council meeting.

Her statement was made in reference to an announcement from Beijing last Monday that it will transform the southernmost province of Hainan into a “free trade port.” She said the blueprint provided opportunities for collaboration with the Greater Bay Area, including Hong Kong.

China’s parliament last month approved plans to impose national security laws criminalising subversion, secession, foreign interference and terrorism on Hong Kong – laws which are used to snuff out dissent in the mainland. Democrats and activists decried the decision as a death sentence for the city’s freedoms.

‘Wilful smearing’

However, Lam dismissed the criticism as wilful smearing from a small group in order to push people to participate in a multi-industry strike later this month.

“They are going against the interest of 7 million Hong Kong people, especially those in deep water, who are counting on the measures I just mentioned to get through difficult times,” she said, in reference to a series of anti-epidemic relief measures.

Tiananmen vigil Victoria Park 2020
A protester holds a sign reading: ‘Heaven will destroy the Chinese Communist Party.’ Photo: May James/HKFP.

A student group and a coalition of trade unions have vowed to hold a referendum among its members on June 14 on whether to go ahead with the walkout.

“As far as any strike action amidst the difficulties that Hong Kong is facing, I do not believe that Hong Kong people welcome that sort of strike action when their greatest worry is losing their jobs and facing difficulties in their daily living,” Lam said in response to HKFP.