Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor responded forcefully in London to politicians and commentators who made criticism about Hong Kong's judicial system and its judges.
She said such comments were "extremely disturbing", "unfair" and "disrespectful".
Lam stressed that Hong Kong was still based on its core values－including the rule of law, an independent judiciary and a strong legal-aid system. These ensured citizens had access to justice, as well as freedoms and rights guaranteed under the Basic Law.
She spoke at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council Annual Dinner on Wednesday. It was her first trip to Europe since taking up office as chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 1.
Her remarks follow comments this week by Chris Patten, Hong Kong's last governor before its return to China in 1997.
Speaking on Tuesday in Hong Kong, Patten accused the Department of Justice of jeopardizing the city's world-recognized reputation for the rule of law by seeking sentence reviews on three radical student activists - Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang.
The Court of Appeal sentenced the three activists on Aug 17 to jail terms of six to eight months for their roles in a violent protest on the eve of the illegal "Occupy Central" movement in 2014. The sentences came after Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung filed a review of their previous noncustodial sentences.
Lam's remarks came after a group of 25 foreign politicians and activists, including a former British foreign secretary, criticized the sentences of the activists.
In closing her speech in London, Lam also urged people to speak up in support of Hong Kong.
In addition, Lam expressed her full confidence and optimism for Hong Kong's success as the city enjoys unique and unrivalled advantages under the "one country, two systems" principle, as well as strong support from the central government.