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Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 18:02
CE: Social unrest, if unchecked, threatens national security
By Chen Zimo
Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 18:02 By Chen Zimo

This screenshot captured from a video posted on the website of the HKSAR government's Information Services Department shows Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor giving in a video address on April 15, 2020, also the fifth National Security Education Day.

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's chief executive said on Wednesday that unlawful acts and radicalism during the social unrest last year could threaten national security had they not been curbed effectively.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor made the remarks in a video address as the city marked the fifth National Security Education Day.

She was referring to violence that she said came close to terrorism during last year’s civil unrest that had lasted more than seven months. She cited the making of explosives, arms as well as sustained and potentially lethal attacks on police officers. She added there was widespread cyber bullying and hate speech directed towards people holding different political views.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said by firmly committing to local safety and stability, the SAR government is accountable to not only Hong Kong but to the nation as a whole

Lam said the social unrest in Hong Kong over the past year gave the Hong Kong community a deeper understanding of the importance of national security.

READ MORE: HK urged to enact national security law

Hong Kong has a constitutional responsibility to safeguard national security as an inalienable part of China, Lam said.

Lam went on, by firmly committing to local safety and stability, the SAR government is accountable to not only Hong Kong but to the nation as a whole.

In meeting the crisis, the SAR government maintained three principles: to uphold “one country, two systems”, respect and safeguard the rule of law and protect Hong Kong’s institutional strength.

The HKSAR government, local schools and universities, as well as social groups, should work together to educate and promote national security in the Hong Kong community, said Lam.

The scope of national security also includes public health security and financial security as well as other deeper and broader areas, Lam said. "In the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the HKSAR government will not slacken its effort and will continue to work together with the public to fight the outbreaks."Lam also said that the HKSAR government must enhance its alertness against potential dangers even in times of peace.

ALSO READ: Article 23: Cometh the threat, cometh the law

The financial market of Hong Kong, an international financial center with all-round opening and free access to capital, is susceptible to external impacts. As Hong Kong's financial market is increasingly interconnected with the mainland market, plus Hong Kong's status as the world's largest offshore RMB business center, ensuring Hong Kong's financial security is of greater importance not only to Hong Kong but also to the overall financial security of the country, she pointed out.

Stressing the importance of education in promoting public awareness of national security, Lam called for joint efforts by the HKSAR government, schools and various organizations in encouraging Hong Kong residents to better understand the importance of national security. 

Leung Chun-ying, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said political security is an essential element of protecting national security

Several key players on the Hong Kong and national political scene were quick to endorse the CE’s remarks. All agreed that Hong Kong has entered a critical stage, with renewed focus on national security awareness. They said last year’s violence and political unrest had exposed a vulnerability that brings the issue into clear focus.

Leung Chun-ying, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said political security is an essential element of protecting national security.

Hong Kong is the most open, free and international city in the world and it enjoys a high degree of autonomy, Leung said. For all of those assets, Hong Kong’s would be the only choice, as the soft spot in national security throughout the country, he added.

The risks, he said, are exposed through drastic changes in the relationships between Hong Kong’s opposition camp and foreign powers. The former CE noted the change began taking hold after Hong Kong’s return to the nation in 1997. The changes, giving foreign powers a clear avenue into Hong Kong affairs, are a threat to national security, Leung said.

Before 1997, the opposition received little attention from the US or the UK. Then, suddenly they became people of influence, welcomed by top-level officials from the US, Leung explained.

“There is only one explanation. They have become pawns for the US and the UK to contain China,” he said.

Veteran political scientist Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said that the US has been influential in attempting to undermine Hong Kong’s value toward the nation’s development. He said the American government had turned Hong Kong into a sort of bargaining chip, in efforts to diminish China’s national security, and contain its growing influence on the global scene.

Maria Tam Wai-chu called on the community to support the Hong Kong government in fulfilling its constitutional responsibility, which is to legislate Article 23 of the Basic Law, as national security concerned the well-being and long-term stability of Hong Kong and its people

Lau urged Hong Kong’s people to view the city’s role from a national and international perspective, rather than from "a narrow local perspective”. He said his comment was directly particularly toward young people.  

It would be detrimental to Hong Kong if national security is threatened in ways that would affect the implementing of “one country, two systems”, he warned.

Over the past 23 years, Maria Tam Wai-chu, deputy director of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said agitation overtly to defy the central government and “one country, two systems” has emerged from the shadows and has been placed openly on the record.  

All kinds of disruptions and threats to security have emerged, including separatism. Some of those individuals, voicing radical points of view have done so openly while running for legislative office, Tam noted.

She called on the community to support the Hong Kong government in fulfilling its constitutional responsibility, which is to legislate Article 23 of the Basic Law, as national security concerned the well-being and long-term stability of Hong Kong and its people.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu and Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung talked about the security threats posed by the emergence of violent acts that had lethal consequences. They said many events fell into the category of domestic terrorism, posing a severe threat to local and national security.

Lee pledged that the SAR government will not permit social disruptions to threaten national security, or local security. Anyone seeing the city as a “springboard” to for harming the national interest on a global scale, would be dealt with according to the law, he said.  

He cited the Security Bureau’s ban of the Hong Kong National Party in 2018 under the Societies Ordinance, for advocating “Hong Kong independence” and “self-determination”, as an example of the government’s commitment to national security.

Tang noted that all members of society play an important role in the fight against terrorism and the maintenance of national security. The general public must be aware of the threat of domestic terrorism and remain vigilant in their daily lives. They should also condemn these extreme acts of violence, unanimously to help curb lawlessness and violence. 

With Xinhua inputs

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