Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam says the ″one country, two systems″ framework under which the city enjoys freedoms unknown in China could continue after the 2047 deadline if loyalty to Beijing is upheld.

Ms Lam’s comments on Thursday at the Legislative Council appeared to be an appeal to those in the city who see Beijing as tightening its control over the semi-autonomous territory’s civic, economic and political life.

Hong Kong was handed over from British to Chinese rule in 1997 with a promise that it would maintain its own capitalist economy and Western-style institutions for 50 years.

We have to uphold the principle of ‘One Country’

Carrie Lam

“Only if we insist implementing ‘one country, two systems’ principle and practice it continuously and fully … then I think there will be enough grounds for ‘one country, two systems’ to move ahead smoothly and there would be no change after 2047,” Lam said in her remarks.

“We have to uphold the principle of ‘One Country’. Only by doing this, can ‘one country, two systems’ be moving forward smoothly.”

Hong Kong has been wracked by often violent anti-government protests since June, although they have recently diminished in scale.