© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a news conference in Beijing
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a news conference in Beijing

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Wednesday the government’s urgent priority was to restore the Chinese-ruled city’s constitutional order and its “political system from chaos”.

Lam was delivering her annual policy address in the semi autonomous city’s legislature. She had postponed her speech by more than a month in order to go to Beijing for talks on how China can help with the finance hub’s economic recovery.

The central government’s role in the former British colony has been in the spotlight, in particular with the imposition in June of a security law after months of pro-democracy protests – the most intense in decades – last year.

“In the past year or so, Hong Kong has experienced the most severe political challenges since its return to the motherland,” Lam said. “One of our urgent priorities is to restore … constitutional order and political system from chaos.”

Lam said the government will introduce a bill to enhance “oath-taking” by civil servants and conduct widespread public education “to enhance the understanding of the rule of law”.

She accused foreign governments and legislatures of intensifying interference in Hong Kong’s affairs, which she said were China’s internal affairs, and that their actions were jeopardising national security.

Last year’s protests were triggered in part by fears in Hong Kong that the central government was whittling away the freedoms granted when the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula.

Lam, the city’s least popular leader post-handover, presented her annual policy address via video last year after some opposition lawmakers disrupted the legislative session, jeering as she started her speech.

She did not face any opposition this year, after pro-democracy lawmakers resigned en masse after four of their colleagues were disqualified after China’s parliament gave city authorities powers to oust lawmakers without court scrutiny.

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