Timeline: The Life and Career of Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced Monday that she will step down in June after 42 years in government service, ending a tumultuous five-year tenure as chief executive of the city. Some highlights of Lam’s life and career:


May 13, 1957: Cheng Yuet-ngor was born in Hong Kong. She attends St. Francis’ Canossian School, a Catholic girls’ school, where she only failed once to finish at the top of her class, and she later said she cried about it.

1980: Graduates from the University of Hong Kong and joins the Hong Kong government as a civil servant. During her career, she is known to have a strong work ethic.

1982: She studies at the University of Cambridge, where she meets her future husband, the mathematician Lam Siu-por.

1984: Marries Lam Siu-por.

July 1, 1997: Britain returns Hong Kong to China. Under the one China, two systems framework, Hong Kong becomes a special administrative region with its own laws and system of government.

July 1, 2007: Appointed Secretary of Public Works. He renounces his British nationality as required by the Chinese government for senior Hong Kong government officials.

July 1, 2012: Appointed to City Position #2, Chief Administration Clerk.

July 1, 2017: Chinese President Xi Jinping is sworn in as chief executive of Hong Kong after winning 777 votes in March from a 1,194-member electoral committee.

February 2019 – The Hong Kong government proposes amendments to the city’s laws that would allow case-by-case extraditions to mainland China.

March 2019: Thousands take to the streets of Hong Kong to protest against the extradition bill.

June 9, 2019: A massive protest against the bill draws more than 1 million people according to estimates by organizers. Protests and political conflicts have shaken the city for more than six months.

September 2019: Lam announces that his government will withdraw the extradition bill. Protests continue over other issues, turning increasingly violent at times as protesters battle police in the streets.

June 2020: Beijing imposes a national security law on Hong Kong, prohibiting secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in the city’s affairs.

July 31, 2020: Lam invokes an emergency regulations ordinance to postpone the Legislative Council elections for a year, citing the public health risks of the pandemic. The pro-democracy opposition camp accuses her of using the pandemic to delay a vote in which she hoped to make a profit.

August 2020: The US imposes sanctions on Lam and other Chinese and Hong Kong officials “for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting Hong Kong citizens’ freedom of expression or assembly.” Lam later says that he had to store “lots of cash” at home because he didn’t have access to banking services.

May 2021: China revises Hong Kong’s electoral laws, reducing the proportion of people directly elected by voters to the legislature and ensuring that only Beijing loyalists can run for office.

Dec 2021: Voter turnout sinks to 30% in the delayed Legislative Council election, which yields a strongly pro-Beijing majority after the pro-democracy camp field no candidates.

Jan 2022-present: An omicron-driven outbreak overwhelms the health system, resulting in over 8,000 deaths. Lam’s government is widely criticized for mismanaging the outbreak.

April 4, 2022: Lam announces that he will retire after his five-year term expires on June 30.

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