Hong Kong Chief Carrie Lam Compares Democracy Protest at Home to U.S. Capitol Riot

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, speaks during a news conference on November 25, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Lam delivered her remarks against a backdrop of the mass resignation of pro-democracy activists from the semi-autonomous city's legislative council this month. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)
Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday complained of “double standards” because her government, and its masters in Beijing, were criticized for ruthlessly cracking down on pro-democracy demonstrators, comparing that movement to the riot last week at the U.S. Capitol.

Lam, in essence, argued that since America has gotten a taste of the unrest Hong Kong experienced in 2019 and 2020, it should now be more sympathetic to the tough measures taken by her administration and the Chinese Communist Party to restore public order.

“We had rampant violence and riots undermining the safety of Hong Kong people, properties and businesses. Some overseas commentators or politicians were condoning or encouraging these activities under the guise of democracy – but when the same things seemed to happen in their own country, they immediately took a very different approach to condemn the violence, and some said that this was verging on sedition in American society,” Lam said at a press conference.

The Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) chastised Lam for using the Capitol riot to justify Hong Kong’s mass arrest of peaceful political dissidents:

At a press conference she urged overseas politicians to respect the city’s autonomy in handling its internal matters, following widespread criticism of last Wednesday’s mass arrests under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

More than 50 local pro-democracy figures were rounded up for alleged “subversion” over their organization or participation last July in an unofficial primary election to choose pro-democracy candidates for the now-postponed 2020 Legislative Council election. Authorities cited a plan to use strategic voting to win a majority in the legislature, block budget bills and force the government into a shutdown.

Lam said “recent incidents” in the U.S. proved the Western world has “double standards” about protecting national security and preserving public order.

“The first double standard that they have adopted is, they uphold their own national security, but at the same time belittle the need for national security in the People’s Republic of China, especially in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” she said, referring to the national security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing last year. Human rights organizations around the world have criticized the law for criminalizing political dissent as sedition. 

“If some people think that as long as someone holds a certain political ideology, or they have taken certain actions, then they are immune from legal sanctions, that is not in line with our legal spirit and not in line with our core values. Everyone is equal before the law and no one is above that,” Lam said in defense of her approach to the pro-democracy protesters.

HKFP noted that pro-Beijing forces in Hong Kong take particular “delight” in comparing the Capitol incident with the July 1, 2019, storming of Hong Kong’s legislature by pro-democracy demonstrators. 

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