The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Australia are all ramping up their joint pressures toward China for introducing a national security law in Hong Kong. The scenario is more akin to what happened in the 19th century, when the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was defeated in the opium wars and Hong Kong was ceded to Britain as a result.
Thank goodness that shameful period of national weakness, humiliation and colonial rule is very much in the history books now. After 150 years of colonial rule, Hong Kong was at last formally returned to China under the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1997 and has been governed by its Basic Law.
Within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s Basic Law, it is specified that national laws related to matters out of the HKSAR’s high degree of autonomy, including national security, can be promulgated in the HKSAR after being added to Annex III of the Basic Law. For those Western politicians who pointed their fingers at China and accused her of “intervention” in the governance of the HKSAR, it would be advisable for them to take a look at the two relevant documents to have a better understanding of China’s sovereignty over the HKSAR and the legislative framework relating to its governance.
To begin with, several national laws introduced by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress have been adopted in the HKSAR, including laws relating to the capital, national flag, national anthem and others.
Leaders of the different foreign nations were against the HKSAR’s Basic Law when they raised an objection to the promulgation of a national security law in the HKSAR through the mechanism regarding Annex III stipulated in Article 18, which clearly spells out that the NPCSC has had the authority to have laws promulgated in Hong Kong since day one of its return to China.
It was most unfortunate that the proposed national security legislation according to Article 23 of the Basic Law relating to the prohibition of treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the state was withdrawn in 2003. The year was also marked by mass protests and demonstrations. The bill has been shelved for the last 17 years.
Leaders of the different foreign nations were against the HKSAR’s Basic Law when they raised an objection to the promulgation of a national security law in the HKSAR through the mechanism regarding Annex III stipulated in Article 18, which clearly spells out that the NPCSC has had the authority to have laws promulgated in Hong Kong since day one of its return to China. This action of law enactment has absolutely nothing to do with either the UK or any other nations, most if not all of which have legislation of a similar nature protecting their own national security.
Some of the political leaders from these nations who most recently have been articulating their opposition to the enactment of the new security law for Hong Kong have claimed that it would “undermine the agreement which saw Hong Kong transferred from British rule over to China back in 1997”. If they do strongly believe that there is such an “agreement”, then perhaps they believe their comments have the backing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. However, one feels that this assumption proves to be wrong.
These leaders, one believes, must be relying on the hallucinatory interpretations and inaccurate briefings by their prejudicial China experts instead of reading the documents themselves. History has proved that those local residents who opposed the enactment of a national security law according to Article 23 of the Basic Law previously and the new national security law now are individuals in the pockets of overseas politicians and funders, especially the US. It is on record that in 2019 alone, more than $640,000 was channeled to those anti-government activists and groups in the HKSAR. No wonder some of these so-called activists were able to make frequent overseas trips to meet with their paymasters and to report on what they have done to badmouth and sabotage the HKSAR government. These paymaster nations are the ones who consistently assert that “violence in Hong Kong is justified” or that “Hong Kong’s special trade treatment will be reconsidered” and “sanctions will be imposed on China”.
From the absurd to the ridiculous, besides the UK and the US, there are quite a few other nations, including Demark, France, Portugal and Spain, who have given up their respective colonies and protectorates over the years. One can only hope that the UK will realize the fact that its days of colonization and empire-building are truly over. Hong Kong has been a special administrative region of China since July 1997 and will remain an inalienable part of China whatever happens. No amount of illegal channeling of cash to local provocateurs, nor making noises on the international stage, will change the reality of the HKSAR’s indisputable status and its constitutional link with China.
The author is 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.
HONG KONG NEWS