Chinese President Xi Jinping strongly endorsed Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam on December 22, saying the former British colony had transformed “from chaos to order” since a new security law was imposed last year, the city’s media reported.
China has overseen sweeping changes in Hong Kong after huge and often violent “pro-democracy” protests two years ago, introducing a national security law that criminalised “secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign or extrnal forces”.
The first public vote under this new order was held on December 19 for the city’s legislature, with a low turnout recorded.
Despite only 30 per cent of the electorate casting ballots, Lam was backed by the central government on a three-day visit to Beijing this week.
Beijing “fully affirms” the Lam administration’s work, Xi told the territory’s chief executive in opening comments at a meeting shown by broadcaster RTHK and other Hong Kong TV channels.
The situation was “changing for the better”, Xi said, adding that the weekend’s vote had been “held successfully” under Beijing’s changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system.
Praising the Hong Kong government for “resolutely implementing” the security law, Xi told Lam that her administration had taken “firm steps to push forward Hong Kong’s democratic development in accordance with the actual situation”, according to RTHK footage.
“The democratic right of our Hong Kong compatriots to be masters of their own home has been realised,” Xi said, also commending the Lam administration’s efforts to restore public order and economic growth in the financial hub.
Lam told reporters at a press conference on the evening of December 21 in Beijing that “the Hong Kong government does not have a particular benchmark for voter turnout”.
“As there is no benchmark . . . there is no such thing as success or failure,” she said at the conference.
The elections were “in line with ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’” and “conducted in a way that is fair, transparent, clean, effective and humanistic”, Lam added.
She brushed off questions on whether she will run for another term, saying only that she would continue serving in office through to June next year.