Hong Kong leader accuses foreign critics of double standards

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Pro-democracy activists, Joshua Wong, left, Sunny Cheung, center, and Nathan Law holding a placard, speak to media to urge the European leaders against national security law for Hong Kong outside the Legislative Council, in Hong Kong, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says his country stands ready to open the door to close to 3 million Hong Kong citizens if China enacts a national security law for the city. He said in a local newspaper column that the law would curtail freedoms and has many in Hong Kong fearing for their way of life. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam accused foreign critics on Wednesday of displaying “blatant double standards” over moves by Beijing to strengthen control over the semi-autonomous territory.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced earlier that his country is ready to open the door to almost 3 million Hong Kong citizens if China enacts a national security law for the city.

Following talks with officials in Beijing, Lam said China has the same right as the U.S. and Britain to enact legislation protecting its national security and that foreign criticism and threats of sanctions could not be justified. She also said China was compelled to take the step at the national level because opposition in Hong Kong’s own legislature and among government critics made it impossible to do so locally.

“I can only say that the international community and some of the foreign governments have been adopting blatant double standards in dealing with this matter and commenting on this matter," Lam said.

“It is within the legitimate jurisdiction of any country to enact laws to protect and safeguard national security. U.S.A. is no exception. U.K. is no exception," Lam said. “So why should they object, resist or even condemn and take their sanctions against Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China for taking similar actions?"

Johnson said in a column published online by the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, that the security law would curtail freedoms in Hong Kong and conflict with China's obligations under its agreement with the United Kingdom when it took back the former British colony in 1997.

“Many people in Hong Kong fear their way of life — which China pledged to uphold — is under threat,” he wrote. “If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away.”

China shocked many of Hong Kong's 7.5 million people when it announced earlier this month that it will enact a national security law for the city, which was promised a high level of autonomy outside of foreign and defense affairs.