Hong Kong leader criticizes ‘double standards’ over protests

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s leader on Tuesday criticized the “double standards” of foreign governments regarding national security, pointing to the current unrest in the United States as an example of how attitudes differ when protests hit home.

“We have recently seen these kind of double standards most clearly with the riots in the United States,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said. “We can see how local authorities have reacted. But then last year when we had similar riots in Hong Kong, what was their position?”

The U.S., Britain and some other Western democracies sharply criticized police crackdowns on anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year. Lam pointed to more recent criticism of an imminent national security law that many foreign politicians have characterized as Beijing eroding freedoms promised to Hong Kong.

“They take their own country’s national security very seriously, but for the security of our country, especially the situation in Hong Kong, they are looking at it through tinted glasses,” she said.

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Lam will lead a delegation of senior Hong Kong officials to Beijing on Wednesday to present her views on the planned national security laws to Chinese government officials, the Hong Kong government announced.

China’s ceremonial legislature last week approved a decision to create national security laws for Hong Kong, aimed at curbing subversive and secessionist activity after the monthslong pro-democracy movement last year that at times resulted in violent clashes between protesters and police.

In response to the proposed laws, U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday pledged to “take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory.”

Lam said if any countries imposed sanctions or made moves to affect trading relations, they would only be “hurting their own interests.” She went on to highlight the U.S. trade surplus with Hong Kong.

“Foreign governments have been responding in a high-profile manner, some have threatened certain actions, and I can only say that they are adopting double standards,” Lam said.

Lam also expressed concern over the latest coronavirus outbreak in the city, after a cluster of nine people in the same public housing building tested positive for the virus over the past few days, ending a streak of nearly two weeks without locally transmitted cases.

Hong Kong on Tuesday said it would implement a two-week extension of social distancing measures, including a ban on public gatherings of more than eight people, to June 18.

The city’s entry restrictions will also remain in place until Sept. 18 for foreign non-residents, with the exception of those who have stayed in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau for 14 days prior to their arrival in Hong Kong. Residents of those places are also allowed into the city if they have not traveled elsewhere prior to their arrival.

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