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Hong Kong’s EU trade envoy says freedom fears over China ‘overdone’

Hong Kong’s EU trade envoy says freedom fears over China ‘overdone’

Hong Kong’s special economic and trade representative to the European Union, Shirley Lam, has insisted concerns that China is encroaching on the former British colony’s freedoms are “overdone”, as the semi-autonomous region finds itself caught in the middle of the Sino-US trade war.

“We are operating under the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, both of which are equally important,” Ms Lam said in an interview with The Irish Times in Dublin, ahead of the start of the Chinese New Year on Tuesday. “We are part of China, but we retain our own capitalist system, our own independent judicial system and also our way of life.”

Almost 22 years since the UK returned control of the region to Beijing, Hong Kong’s introduction last month of a controversial Bill that would make disrespecting the Chinese national anthem a crime has heightened fears about freedom of expression in the territory.

Last November, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a body that advises the US Congress, said China’s creeping influence on Hong Kong’s political system could weaken its standing as a global business hub and affect exports of US technology to the region. Hong Kong’s government has rejected the report.