The death of free Hong Kong was planned in Beijing, but Carrie Lam will go down in history as its chief executioner. On Monday she said she won’t seek a second five-year term as the city’s chief executive, but her legacy is secure.
A career civil-servant who prospered under British rule, she was obliged as governor under the city’s Basic Law to preserve the city’s autonomy (“one country, two systems”) that China promised after it took control in 1997. She failed utterly. In 2019 she frightened the public by trying to muscle through an extradition bill to subject Hong Kongers to mainland laws and courts. Millions protested and Ms. Lam backed down.
But in 2020 she swung the axe when China imposed a national-security law that outlaws dissent, with a maximum penalty of life in prison. Nearly Hong Kong’s entire political opposition has been disqualified from holding office, driven into exile, or arrested. The press has been stifled or had its assets seized, and the courts can’t be trusted.
(Wall Street Journal 2022.4.4 editorial, Carrie Lam’s Hong Kong Legacy)