Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) yesterday said that US legislation supporting protesters might damage business confidence in the territory, and announced a fourth round of relief measures to boost an economy battered by months of demonstrations.
Lam told reporters after a weekly meeting with advisers that the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act signed into law by US President Donald Trump on Friday last week was “wholly unnecessary.”
Hong Kong is grappling with its first recession in a decade.
Lam also said that clashes between protesters and police last weekend, in which police used tear gas and pepper spray balls in skirmishes as protesters blocked streets and vandalized some shops, have dampened her hopes that a recent lull in violence would allow the territory’s economy to recover.
The clashes were much smaller than earlier ones, but Lam said they threw cold water on her hopes that the relative peace would hold.
“Again, we’re seeing violent scenes that we don’t want to see anymore,” she told reporters after a weekly meeting with advisers.
Lam did not specify what the next round of relief measures would include, except that they would support business, protect jobs and offer economic relief.
“We have freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, religious freedom — we enjoy a high degree of freedom in many areas,” Lam said. “There’s an overseas government that interfered with Hong Kong affairs, and that is most regrettable.”
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act requires an annual review by the US Department of State of the favorable trading status that the US grants to the territory. It also threatens sanctions for human rights violations.
“The impact currently is on confidence,” Lam said.
Companies “will be worried about the actions the US government may take in the future after they review this legislation,” she said.
Lam is to visit Beijing on Dec. 16 and meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Hong Kong broadcaster Cable TV reported last night, citing sources.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng (鄭若驊) said she would return to her office today after being on sick leave for more than two weeks following an altercation in London during which she was injured.
The government said she was targeted by a “violent mob” while on a trip to promote Hong Kong.
Cheng, who returned home from Beijing yesterday, told reporters that she had suffered a bone fracture around her wrist and had an operation in London.
Additional reporting by AP
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