HONG KONG — Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam labeled Washington as hypocritical to criticize the city’s handling of pro-democracy demonstrations, saying the U.S. has been heavy handed in clamping down on people protesting over the police killing of an unarmed black man.
“You know there are riots in the United States and we see how local governments reacted. And then in Hong Kong, when we had similar riots, we saw what position they adopted then,” Lam told reporters on Tuesday. “I can only describe them as upholding double standards.”
Protests are taking place across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes. Some of the demonstrations have turned into riots, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten to deploy the military.
Washington has been critical of the Hong Kong government’s response to the ongoing pro-democracy protests, where riot police have been accused of using disproportionate force. Trump vowed last week to end the city’s special trade and investment privileges after Beijing announced a plan to impose national security laws for the financial hub, threatening the “one country, two systems” formula that governs the former British territory.
“For some countries that have had a high-profile response and claimed they will take action… They are very concerned about their own national security, but on our national security… they hold a distorted view,” Lam said.
The proposed security laws would criminalize activities pertaining to “separatism, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign interference,” as well as allowing Chinese security agencies to operate openly in the city. Critics said the move would facilitate further crackdowns on dissent and limit free speech in Hong Kong.
Lam’s remark comes after Beijing made similar comments on the U.S. protests, accusing Trump’s administration of applying “double standards.”
“Why did the US glorify the so-called pro-independence forces in Hong Kong as heroes, but call the protesters disappointed with racism in the US rioters? Why did the US criticize the very restrained Hong Kong police but shoot its domestic protesters and even mobilize its National Guard troops?” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for Chinese foreign ministry, said on Monday.