Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam defended China’s proposed national security law for the city on Tuesday, saying Hong Kong needs the legislation for the benefit of the majority of its people.

On Thursday, China’s National People’s Congress announced the enforcement of a new security law that would ban treason, secession, and sedition and allow the establishment of a Chinese intelligence agency in Hong Kong. In doing so, China would circumvent Hong Kong’s autonomous legislative process and dismantle the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong is governed.

While pro-democracy lawmakers, diplomats, and millions of Hong Kong residents condemned the proposition, Lam said in her first public address since Thursday’s announcement that there was no need for citizens and foreign politicians to be concerned by the new law. She also said other countries had “no place in interfering with this arrangement.”

“Hong Kong needs this piece of legislation for the bigger benefit of the great majority of Hong Kong people,” said Lam. She also urged Hong Kong citizens to wait for the full draft of the legislation to be released before expressing their opposition.

“In the last 23 years, whenever people worried about Hong Kong’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression and protest, time and again, Hong Kong has proven that we uphold and preserve those values,” she said. “The best thing is to see the legislation in front of us and to understand why at this point in time Hong Kong needs this piece of legislation,” she added.

The NPC is scheduled to approve the new legislation in a vote this week. Once approved, the Xi government will flesh it out into a full draft law and have it passed before the end of June. Until then, protests are expected to continue in Hong Kong.

Since the handover from Britain in 1997, citizens of Hong Kong have enjoyed their right to protest and freedom of expression. According to Lam, the city will continue to allow anti-government protests as long as they are “done in a legal way.” However, she did not elaborate on what views would be considered illegal under the new law.

Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Carrie Lam defended China's new national security law in a speech on Tuesday, May 26. Getty/ Anthony Wallace