Hong Kong’s leader on Tuesday said Western governments would get “a taste of their own medicine”, citing her personal experience in being targeted by them, as she welcomed a new anti-sanctions law to be passed by Beijing.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who has been sanctioned by Washington along with some of her top officials and police officers, hit back at the United States and its allies, saying the imminent law would provide legal grounds for Beijing to retaliate.
“The Hong Kong government has first-hand experience regarding these sanctioning acts,” she said, explaining why her administration “welcomed the move very much”.
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“There is a saying: ‘Let others have a taste of their own medicine’,” she added. “I believe any Chinese person who upholds the sovereignty, dignity and core interests of our country should feel the outrage in their heart.”
China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, is set to pass the anti-sanctions law on Thursday following a second reading on Monday.
State media have characterised the move as an effort to counter the US and its allies, who have been piling pressure on Beijing over such issues as its imposition of a national security law and sweeping electoral overhaul on Hong Kong, and its treatment of the Uygur ethnic minority in Xinjiang.
The law is seen as an extension of measures aimed at “counteracting unjustified extraterritorial application of foreign legislation”, which were first revealed in January. These “blocking rules” take aim at Washington’s so-called long-arm jurisdiction, which allows it to prosecute entities as long as they have links to the US.
The new law appears to build upon and give teeth to these rules, which allow aggrieved parties – such as the telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies, which has been subject to restrictions aimed at cutting it off from key components made with American technology – to report damages to the commerce ministry and sue for compensation in Chinese courts.
Lam on Tuesday pointed out that the new anti-sanctions law would only provide an avenue for Beijing to respond, not strike first.
She also echoed state media reports accusing Western countries of seizing upon the situations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong as pretexts for imposing sanctions on China that violated international law and norms.
Lam’s remarks came after she reportedly told attendees of a weekend session organised by the city’s biggest pro-establishment party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, that she expected she would be sanctioned for life, even after she left office.
The last round of US sanctions related to Hong Kong came in March, and brought the total number of affected local and central government officials to 32. Their US-linked assets have been frozen and their access to banks has been curtailed.
Lam and several officials, including Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah and Commissioner of Police Chris Tang Ping-keung, were among the first batch of 11 sanctioned by the US in August last year.
In previous interviews, Lam said she kept piles of cash at home as she could not maintain a bank account, although she said she felt honourable for enduring the hardship.
The US has repeatedly raised concerns over the national security law and the subsequent arrests of dozens of opposition figures, as well as the electoral overhaul, which Beijing imposed to ensure the city was run only by “patriots”.
But China has frequently hit back at the US, warning against any interference in its internal affairs. In January, it also imposed sanctions on 28 US officials, including departing secretary of state Mike Pompeo.
Beijing last week told the US and the European Union they were “playing with fire” after their diplomatic missions in Hong Kong took the unprecedented step of lighting candles in windows to mark the June 4 anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
Asked on Tuesday why opposition district councillors in Hong Kong had been issued warnings by the Home Affairs Department over their handing out of candles or social media posts relating to the anniversary, city leader Lam said that was to ensure public money allocated to those representatives was used properly.
“District councillors have been creating big tests and challenges for the government, especially the Home Affairs Department, because many of their acts have been unprecedented,” Lam said.
She added: “If public money is not used properly, according to the District Councils Ordinance and in the name of public duty, the [department’s] director has a huge responsibility to take action. That’s why officials have to respond appropriately.”
Lam was also asked if the government would outlaw the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the organiser of the city’s annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the crackdown which was banned this year on public health grounds. The alliance has repeatedly called for an end to China’s “one-party rule”.
The chief executive reiterated her position that the government would follow the law in deciding whether a group should be proscribed.
Additional reporting by Tony Cheung
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