HONG KONG • Hong Kong’s leader says she has “returned” her honorary fellowship to a Cambridge college after a row over whether the finance hub’s academic freedoms are being suppressed as the authorities crack down on pro-democracy opponents.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she was cutting ties with Cambridge University’s Wolfson College after it began looking into the state of academic liberty in Hong Kong.
Mrs Lam said she was “deeply disappointed by the college smearing a person on the basis of hearsay instead of facts”.
“Therefore I can hardly convince myself to maintain any relation with Wolfson College,” she wrote on Facebook late on Saturday alongside a photo of herself in leafy Cambridge.
Wolfson College said it had recently raised concerns with the Hong Kong leader about “her commitment to the protection of human rights and the freedom of expression”.
Its governing body had been due to consider Mrs Lam’s fellowship next month, but would no longer do so now that she had returned the honour.
Mrs Lam, a pro-Beijing appointee, was one of a number of Chinese and Hong Kong officials sanctioned by the United States after Beijing imposed a sweeping security law on the semi-autonomous city in late June.
The law ramps up the Chinese Communist Party’s control over the finance hub.
In the weeks that followed, some two dozen pro-democracy supporters were arrested under the new powers, including the owner of a Beijing-critical newspaper.
Others have been disqualified from standing in local elections, while libraries and schools have begun pulling any books deemed to breach the law.
Three well-known academics also lost their jobs because they had been previously jailed for leading pro-democracy protests.
Wolfson College had been under pressure to rescind Mrs Lam’s honorary fellowship since last year.
In November, three members of Britain’s House of Lords called for the move over Mrs Lam’s response to months of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests.
The Chinese army has released footage of its Hong Kong garrison firing cannon and torpedoes in a drill in the South China Sea amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington over the status of the former British colony.
The People’s Liberation Army recently tested the weaponry, including a torpedo launch from the vessel Huizhou that successfully hit its target, according to a Weibo post by state broadcaster CCTV yesterday.
The exercise follows the deployment by the US Navy of a carrier strike group to the area to conduct maritime air-defence operations.
The exercise also included helicopter operations, anti-terrorism and anti-piracy drills, and emergency rescue training, according to the Weibo post.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG