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Thursday, June 04, 2020, 01:34
National security law will deliver HK rights and freedom
By Chan Tak-leung
Thursday, June 04, 2020, 01:34 By Chan Tak-leung

In the two sessions of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, it was announced that a law that deals with national security will be enacted for Hong Kong. The new law will deal with issues relating to secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs. One believes that when the new law is promulgated, it will provide sufficient, clear statutory powers to ensure Hong Kong’s residents, after enduring nearly a year of disturbances and violence, will at last have their rights and freedoms returned to them, putting behind all the unwarranted civil unrest and damage to both public and private property in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

One would also hope that the Hong Kong government will follow the leadership of the CPPCC and NPC, and also begin the process of enacting a local version of the National Security Law according to Article 23 of the Basic Law without any further delays.

It was most unfortunate and yet not totally unexpected that opposition voices were raised from the “pan-democratic” camp in Hong Kong relating to this important announcement, not to mention illegal and disruptive demonstrations. Those who resorted to violence and intimidation toward innocent citizens took to the streets straight away, aided and abetted by foreign voices by adding their doom-and-gloom forecasts that the HKSAR will face severe political and commercial consequences with the enactment of the proposed national security law.

Guess what? How many foreign politicians are aware of the fact that after Macao was established as an SAR in 1999, consultations on the implementation of Article 23 of its Basic Law had already started in 2002, and its legislature enacted a local version of the National Security Law in March 2009? What’s so different or special about Hong Kong that Article 23 legislation was introduced and subsequently aborted in 2013?

Let’s makes it clear — we are now in the year 2020 and not 1900. China has been the second economic power in the world since 2010 and is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The fact that there is no Boxer Rebellion on the horizon never stops a whole host of foreign politicians from proffering their displeasure over the proposed legislation, which ultimately is the sovereign right of China.

Comments and finger-pointing are neither helpful nor advisable.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the “imposing” of a new security law, calling it a “death knell” for the city’s freedom. One would like to invite him to look across Hong Kong to Macao, another SAR of China, which in 1999 enacted its national security law according to Article 23 of its Basic Law without any fanfare. He might want to note that Macao’s residents are totally at peace with its administration and way of life. Pompeo’s boss, US President Donald Trump, signed only two bills last year — the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act”, and a second bill, which bans the export of crowd-control munitions to the Hong Kong police. The irony of this is that when the national security law is enacted in Hong Kong, there will be no need for its police to stock up on crowd-control munitions anyway.

Lord Chris Patten, the erstwhile colonial governor of Hong Kong, urged the British prime minister to follow the example of the prime ministers of Canada and Australia to “speak up and defend Hong Kong’s freedoms”. He nevertheless agreed with Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the current Hong Kong chief executive, who stated that because of increasingly violent confrontations between protesters and police in recent weeks, the HKSAR is “close to the abyss”. Would his lordship kindly explain why most nations in the West, if not the world, would have security laws in their statutory books? Not that their citizens and legislators are always on the streets demonstrating. The laws are there for one good reason — national security.

One doubts how much those young and impressionable demonstrators in Hong Kong — some in their teens — understand about the realities of what lies behind slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time”, “Chinese colonists, get out!”, “Hong Kong independence” and “President Trump: Please liberate Hong Kong”. Most provocateurs and demonstrators claim they are pro-Hong Kong, and yet they are waving flags from Hong Kong’s colonial past as well as British and American flags. Granted, when someone commits to a cause, they believe that their actions must be both valid and justifiable, yet nevertheless the question to ask is: Have they really considered the rights of others who may suffer inconvenience, injuries, and damage to their livelihoods and well-being as a result of their riotous actions?

Those who opposed China resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” principle ignored the fact that while freedoms of assembly and speech are protected in the Basic Law, such rights are not limitless, nor can such people impose their twisted views onto other individuals and the community as a whole. National security is paramount to all nations regardless of their political and ideological affiliations. “Pan-democratic” supporters need to ask themselves who was responsible for delaying universal suffrage in Hong Kong — it certainly was not Beijing.

Press and academic freedoms, the rule of law, a world-class police force, determined and effective handling of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, together with its common-law system, are all visible and acknowledged successes in Hong Kong, despite all the unrest piled on the region in the last 12 months.

Forthcoming national security legislation will only make the region a better and safer place for all.

The author was the first-ever Chinese British citizen to be elected mayor of the London Borough of Redbridge (2009-10) and served as a member of the Borough Council for 12 years.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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