Wolfson College considers removing honorary fellowship from Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam

Institution says it is ‘deeply concerned by recent events’ in the city

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 07 July 2020 21:55
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A Cambridge University college will consider whether to keep Hong Kong’s chief executive on as an honorary fellow in light of the new national security law.

Wolfson College — which awarded Carrie Lam an honorary fellowship in 2017 — said it was “deeply concerned” by developments in the city, where China introduced sweeping legislation last week to snuff out dissent.

The national security law punishes what Beijing describes broadly as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

It will also see mainland security agencies in Hong Kong for the first time and allows extradition to the mainland for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

Professor Jane Clarke, the Cambridge college’s president, said: “Wolfson College strongly supports the protection of human rights and the freedom of expression of all its members.

“Accordingly, it is deeply concerned by recent events in Hong Kong following the enactment of the national security law.”

Her statement added: “The governing body will be considering Mrs Lam’s position as an Honorary Fellow of the college.”

Wolfson College has 36 honorary fellows, and awards these fellowships ”to persons of distinction whom the college holds in high standing”, according to its website.

Ms Lam has faced global backlash over the new national security law, which she said was not all “doom and gloom” on Tuesday.

“Compared with the national security laws of other countries, it is a rather mild law,” the city’s Beijing-backed leader said. “Its scope is not as broad as that in other countries and even China.”

Both Hong Kong and Chinese officials have said the law was vital to plug holes in national security defences, exposed by the city’s failure to pass such legislation itself as required under its mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

Critics have said its aim is to stamp out a pro-democracy movement that brought months of protests to the city last year.

The legislation came into force at the same time it was made public just before midnight last Tuesday.

Police arrested more than 300 people in protests the next day — about 10 of them, including a 15-year-old, for suspected violations of the new law.

A man accused of driving a motorbike at police during demonstrations in Hong Kong over the national security law became the first person to be charged under the legislation last week.

“A 23-year-old local man has been charged with one count of inciting others for secession and one count of terrorist activity,” police said in a statement on Friday.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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