The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, has dismissed claims that the arrests of 55 pro-democracy figures under the national security law last week were meant to silence dissent, saying nobody is above the law.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said that while she would not comment on the specifics because the case was still being investigated, the rule of law must be upheld in Hong Kong.
She stressed that the national security law is local legislation, saying this means it must be properly observed and enforced in the city.
“Everyone is equal before the law. If some people think they can get away with the law just because of their political belief, that is not in line with our legal spirit and goes against our core values,” she said.
Lam called on countries which have criticised the arrests to respect Hong Kong’s domestic affairs, while accusing them of adopting double-standards on the matter.
“Why should Hong Kong not have the safeguards on national security when jurisdictions all over the world have a series of legislation to safeguard their own national security? Are they suggesting that the safety of Hong Kong people is of lesser significance and importance to the people of Hong Kong than the American citizen in an American society?” she questioned.
The CE also criticised countries for supporting the sometimes-violent anti-government protests seen in Hong Kong over the 18 months.
She also referred to the recent siege of the Capitol in the United States by President Donald Trump's supporters.
“When the same things seemed to happen in their own country, they immediately took a very different approach to condemn the violence and some said that this was verging on sedition in American society,” she said.
The CE added that Hong Kong has a very distinguished judiciary, and urged people to leave room for the courts to conduct their work impartially, without interference.