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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will not run for a second term in the upcoming May elections, even as mainland China has increased its control of the semi-autonomous city in recent years, CNBC reported Monday.
Lam said during a press conference that her decision was “entirely based on” her family considerations. Her announcement came a day after the nomination period for Hong Kong’s chief executive election began.
She declined to comment on any potential candidates in the May 8 polls.
Although part of China, the special administrative region of Hong Kong is governed through the “one country, two systems” framework, which provides the city with election rights, as well as a mostly separate legal and economic system.
Elected in 2017, Lam’s term had been plagued by months-long anti-government protests and the impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2019, tens of thousands of people protested a proposed law that would have allowed people in the city to be extradited to mainland China. The bill was later withdrawn but the protests prompted Beijing to impose a controversial national security law on Hong Kong.
Lam said that the legislation was aimed at prohibiting secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference. But many critics said it would undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The chief executive also led the city’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak, with Beijing taking a zero-Covid policy and Hong Kong attempting to maintain its status as an international financial center despite stringent travel restrictions.