Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday warned that U.S. involvement in the former British colony’s future was “totally unnecessary” and “extremely inappropriate.”
She spoke after another weekend of turmoil on the city’s streets that culminated in tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathering outside the U.S. consulate calling for Donald Trump to aid them in their quest for freedom.
Some carried banners reading, “President Trump, please save Hong Kong” and “Make Hong Kong great again” as the protests, now in their 14th straight week, continue to roil the Asian financial powerhouse.
Lam rejected the protesters calls, telling reporters at a press briefing Hong Kong already protected human rights under its Basic Law, the 1997 constitution that provides for a high degree of autonomy in legal and political affairs under the “one country, two systems” arrangement with China.
“To interfere into Hong Kong’s internal affairs in terms of what we are doing under the Basic Law protection of freedoms and liberties — this is totally unnecessary,” Lam told reporters at a briefing. “We ourselves have the obligation and the duty to comply with provisions in the Basic Law.”
Lam said that it is “extremely inappropriate” for another country to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs.
“I hope that no more people in Hong Kong actively reach out to tell the United States to pass the act,” she said, referring to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which was introduced into Congress in June.
The bill would punish officials who suppress basic freedoms in Hong Kong with measures such as freezing their U.S.-based assets and denying them entry to the country. It has bipartisan support and several lawmakers have called it a priority for the new session of Congress, which started on Monday.
Despite Lam’s warning the U.S. to remain neutral in the city’s affairs, Donald Trump has always made it clear he has no intention of intervening or taking sides, refusing to advise China on the matter: “They’ll have to deal with that themselves. They don’t need advice,” he said last month.
The U.S. State Department said in a travel advisory Friday that Beijing has undertaken a propaganda campaign “falsely accusing the United States of fomenting unrest in Hong Kong.” It said U.S. citizens and embassy staff have been the target of the propaganda and urged them to exercise increased caution.