Hong Kong leader urges end to calls for independence
Iran Press TV
Tue Sep 19, 2017 09:56AM
Hong Kong's leader has called for an immediate halt to calls for independence in the semi-autonomous Chinese region, warning that the issue is "destroying the relationship" with Beijing.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam made the remarks on Tuesday, days after banners advocating independence from China first appeared on walls on some university campuses.
Lam said the campaign was "organized and systematic" rather than a spontaneous practice of the right to freedom of speech.
"This has already deviated from the so-called 'why aren't we able to talk about this?' point of view. It is clearly attacking 'one country, two systems'... and destroying the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong," she said.
Under a deal between Britain and China in 1997, Hong Kong was reunited with China, but it was decided that the territory should continue to enjoy autonomy, including a separate legal system. China says that those privileges have been protected but insists it cannot tolerate movements that seek full independence from the mainland.
Lam said, "It is not in the interests of Hong Kong's development and must stop."
She said that the calls for independence "violated" the Basic Law – Hong Kong's mini-constitution – but stressed that the government did not plan to intervene on university campuses against those who have been posting the banners. She said she believed university management would be able to handle the issue without government intervention.
The anti-China posters sparked anger and counter-campaigns by Hong Kong-based students from mainland China.
The heads of Hong Kong universities also in a joint statement denounced the recent "abuses" of freedom of expression, saying that universities did not back independence for Hong Kong.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had cautioned against "impermissible" challenges to Beijing's authority over Hong Kong.
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