Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam late Saturday announced she had renounced an honorary fellowship from the University of Cambridge in England, following criticism of the city’s new national security legislation from British activists and politicians.
Lam, a former British citizen and one-time civil servant, was given an honorary fellowship in 2017 by Wolfson College, a constituent college of the university, after she was chosen as Chief Executive of Hong Kong by a small group of electors.
In a post on Facebook, Lam said the college felt the new law “deviated from the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression, punishing teachers who criticize the government, preventing students from singing and chanting slogans.”
Lam said she was very “disappointed” with the college’s attitude and said their claims were unfounded.
Wolfson College’s governing body said in a statement it had raised concerns with Lam about her commitment to protecting human rights and freedom of expression in Hong Kong, but that she resigned in response.
“The Governing Body was due to consider Mrs Lam’s Honorary Fellowship early next month but will no longer do so,” the statement said.
Lam has been under fire internationally since last year’s widespread pro-democracy protests but scrutiny has further escalated since Beijing imposed its new national security law on June 30.
Last week, she was added to a US Treasury Department sanctions list for allegedly “undermining” Hong Kong’s autonomy from China and “infringing” on the rights of the people of Hong Kong.
The national security law introduces tough prison terms for acts of subversion, succession, and colluding with foreigners.
Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Lam gave up her British citizenship in 2007 in order to serve in Hong Kong’s government.