The Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she had met with representatives from the European Union Office and its member states over the proposed extradition law change on Friday, but none of them had been able to tell her exactly why they were worried about the legal amendment.
Her comment comes a day after the EU Office in Hong Kong said it had handed her a formal diplomatic protest note over the planned legal amendment. This latest move was seen as a hardening of the EU position, just days after Lam reiterated that she wouldn’t scrap the bill.
However, Lam said on Saturday that she had asked the representatives during the meeting to elaborate why exactly they – or their citizens or businessmen – were worried about the amendments.
“I am not sure whether it was because of the shortage of time or whatever, I did not hear such views,” she said.
Lam said she had explained to the representatives that the amendment will meet international standards in terms of human rights protection, adding the SAR government is willing to continue to work on allaying foreign countries’ concerns over the matter.
Lam also said such meetings with diplomatic representatives are not unprecedented, noting she had had similar briefings with overseas consuls-general on the topic of same-sex marriage.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung also weighed in to defend the law change against protests from the international community.
Eight members of the US Congress sent a letter to the Chief Executive opposing the proposed amendments, saying they believe the law change would “irreparably damage Hong Kong’s cherished autonomy and protections for human rights.”
But Cheung said he believes such opposition may stem from a lack of understanding of the ordinance, as well as geopolitical considerations.
“We should and would certainly step up our efforts to explain our case, ease concerns,” said Cheung.
“As regard to moves by the European community and the congress committee in the United States, I would describe them as regrettable, and in fact, it’s unfounded, unwarranted,” he added.