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Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Won’t Seek New Term After Rocky 5 Years

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HONG KONG, April 4 (AP): Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Monday she wouldn’t seek a second term after a rocky five years marked by huge protests calling for her resignation, a security crackdown that has quashed dissent and most recently a COVID-19 wave that overwhelmed the health system.

Her successor will be picked in May, with the city’s hard-line security chief during the 2019 protests seen as a likely choice.

“I will complete my five-year term as chief executive on the 30th of June this year, and I will also call an end to my 42 years of public service,” Lam said at a news conference.

The 64-year-old career civil servant said she plans to spend more time with her family, which is her “sole consideration.”

Speculation had swirled for months about whether she would seek another term, and she repeatedly declined to comment on the possibility.

But on Monday, she said her decision had been conveyed to the central government in Beijing last year and was met with “respect and understanding.”

Her time in office will likely be remembered as a turning point during which Beijing firmly established control over the former British colony, which was returned to China in 1997.

For years, the city rocked back and forth between calls for more freedom and growing signs of China extending its reach, chipping away at a promise by the mainland government to give Hong Kong the power to govern itself semi-autonomously for 50 years.

Lam’s popularity sharply declined over her five-year term, particularly over legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial and her leadership during the protests that ensued in 2019.

The mass demonstrations were marked at times by violent clashes between police and protesters.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing insisted that overseas forces were fuelling the movement, rather than local activism, while protesters denounced the police crackdown as excessive and said that claims of sedition were attempts to undermine the pro-democracy cause.

Lam said she came under great pressure because of the extradition bill, “interference from foreign forces” and the pandemic.

“However, the motivation for me to press on was the very staunch support behind me by the central authorities,” she said, according to a simultaneous translation by a government interpreter.

Later, Lam strongly backed the national security law initiated by Beijing and implemented by her government that was seen as eroding the “one country, two systems” framework that promised after the handover from Britain that city residents would retain freedoms not found in mainland China, such as a free press and freedom of expression.

The security law and other police and court actions in the years since have virtually erased the city’s pro-democracy movement, with activists and the movement’s supporters either arrested or jailed.

Others have fled into exile. Lam and the central government in Beijing say their actions have restored stability in Hong Kong.



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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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