Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on April 4 that she won’t seek a second term as the city’s leader.
“I will not run in the sixth chief executive elections,” Lam told reporters during a press briefing. “In other words, I will complete my five-year chief executive term on June 30, and will officially end my 42-year career in government.”
She thanked the Chinese authorities for supporting her five-year term, which was marked by “unprecedented pressure” from millions of pro-democracy anti-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) protesters—which Lam said was “interference from foreign forces”—as well as Beijing’s imposition of its so-called National Security Law (NSL), and the CCP virus pandemic.
Lam, 64, cited family reasons for her decision, saying she had been presenting to Beijing her family’s wish that she step aside since March last year.
“My personal wish and aspiration is entirely based on my family consideration,” Lam told reporters. “This is what I have told the Central People’s Government and they have expressed understanding.
“I am taking this earliest opportunity to inform the public through the media that I will not contest in the coming Chief Executive Election. I cannot comment on any prospective candidate in the coming Chief Executive Election.”
According to her official website, Lam joined the Hong Kong government in 1980, with service across 20 different positions.
The city’s next leader will be decided by the 1,462 members of the Election Committee, who aren’t directly selected by residents of Hong Kong. The election, delayed since March 27 by the government, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, is due to take place on May 8.
According to local media reports, Chief Secretary John Lee, the city’s second-most-senior official, is set to resign and is expected to run as a candidate to replace Lam. Internal nominations for candidates opened on April 3 and will close on April 16.
Benedict Rogers, head of Hong Kong Watch—an organization that monitors the human rights situation in the former British colony—who has recently been threatened by Hong Kong police with three years in jail for actions in violation of the CCP’s NSL, reacted to the resignation on Twitter:
“Bye bye #CarrieLam. Will you one day apologise for the damage you have done to #HongKong? #CCP #XiJinping has already handpicked #HK’s new quisling Chief Executive and #HongKongers are denied any say in who governs them.”
On March 31, the British government released its biannual report on its former colony’s progress since returning it to Chinese rule in 1997, under the Sino–British Joint Declaration. According to the report, the UK believes that the city’s freedoms have all been extinguished over the past two years because of Beijing’s imposition of its NSL. China has been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party since 1949.
The differences between HK and cities in mainland China are shrinking due to ongoing repression from the PRC.
Full statement – https://t.co/oCsWuZZuj7
Full Hong Kong Policy Act Report – https://t.co/wzDN2rpvCK / https://t.co/3MpabjmMgy pic.twitter.com/Z1W06XfUBC
— US Con HK & Macau (@USAinHKMacau) April 1, 2022
The U.S. Department of State also released its Hong Kong Policy Act report on March 31, to which the Hong Kong government expressed strong opposition.
“As the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Beijing approaches, Hong Kong’s freedoms are diminishing while the PRC tightens its rule,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said upon the report’s release. “The differences between Hong Kong and cities in mainland China are shrinking due to ongoing repression from the PRC.”
The report noted the contributions of the city’s chief executive to the decline of freedoms in Hong Kong, including mention of Lam’s “unprecedented involvement” in weakening Hong Kong’s judicial independence under the communist party’s NSL.
It added that the Hong Kong government, under Lam, had “regularly described speech perceived to be critical of the PRC or Hong Kong governments as violating the NSL or sedition laws.”
The U.S. Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau Hanscom Smith said: “Beijing’s decision to break the promises it made to Hong Kong and the world have undermined the city’s freedoms, competitiveness, and vitality. For Hong Kong to flourish again, Beijing must honor its commitments to preserve the city’s autonomy.
“The United States wants Hong Kong to succeed, and stands with the people in Hong Kong.”