Hong Kong Chief Warns Trump, Biden about U.S. Business Interests after Election

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam warned presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden to "comprehensively evaluate" the next U.S. administration's relationship with the Chinese territory and not let "arbitrary political repression" affect American businesses' interests.

Lam is due in Beijing on Tuesday afternoon as she seeks help from the central government to revive Hong Kong's stalling economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

At her weekly press conference on Tuesday, Lam was asked about the elections in the United States, which she described as "a choice to be made by American voters" and part of "American internal affairs."

It would be up to the next American president and his team to consider how the government will view U.S.–China relations and the importance of Hong Kong within that relationship, she added.

But the 63-year-old Beijing appointee made clear she expected the next U.S. president to thoroughly assess Hong Kong's position in the grander scheme of relations with China.

Lam called the special administrative region's relationship with the U.S. "long-term and mutually beneficial" before going on to cite the current U.S. trade surplus with Hong Kong as well as American financial institutions sharing in the city's success.

"I hope the next U.S. administration will comprehensively evaluate its relationship with Hong Kong, including the interests of U.S. businesses in Hong Kong and those of the many workers they employ, and not let arbitrary political repression have an unreasonable impact [on Hong Kong]," she said.

Lam was also asked about the recent arrests on Sunday and Monday of eight pro-democracy lawmakers for a chamber scuffle in May.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Hong Kong's government in a tweet on Monday, calling it an "attempt to intimidate pro-democracy representatives."

We strongly condemn the arrests of 8 pan-democratic Hong Kong politicians. This attempt to intimidate pro-democracy representatives is another example of the Hong Kong government’s complicity with the authoritarian CCP. We stand with the people of Hong Kong.

— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 2, 2020

"Hong Kong is very proud of our rule of law," Lam said in response. "Every one of us has to respect the rule of law, and refrain from criticizing the judges, their rulings, without any basis."

"Everyone is equal before the law. Nobody, including the chief executive, is above the law," she said.

Lam said any prosecution would be made by Hong Kong's independent judiciary if there was sufficient evidence.

Mainland integration

The Hong Kong leader is expected to meet high-level Chinese officials during her three-day visit to Beijing, which will center around proposals for more central government support for the financial hub during the pandemic.

Talks will also include Hong Kong's future economic integration into the mainland, as well as plans for the Greater Bay Area of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.

During her opening remarks for the start of Hong Kong Legal Week 2020 on Monday, Lam had special praise for the new national security law passed by Beijing this summer.

She called the implementation of the law "both timely and essential." The legislation makes the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.

"Since then, law [and order] and stability in society have been restored and we now have an enhanced system for Hong Kong to accurately and comprehensively implement the 'one country, two systems' principle," she said, according to a transcript on her government's website.

"Despite unjustified attacks by some foreign politicians and governments, I and my Government will continue to steadfastly implement the National Security Law without fear or worry," Lam added.

Hong Kong Carrie Lam
File photo: Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam. ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images