Legislation fully considers Hong Kong’s specific situation, differences between the two systems
Hong Kong residents raise a toast during a rally to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the approval of the national security law for the SAR on June 30. (ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)
China’s top legislative body on June 30 unanimously passed the national security law for Hong Kong.
President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order to promulgate the law, which takes effect immediately.
The 163 members of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress began the second deliberation of the bill during its 20th session in Beijing from June 28 to 30 and adopted the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The meeting, which closed on the afternoon of June 30, also adopted a decision to add the law to Annex III of the HKSAR Basic Law.
The law clearly defines the duties and government bodies of the HKSAR for safeguarding national security, the four categories of offenses — secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security — and their corresponding penalties.
Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over the closing meeting and said the unanimous passing of the law reflected the common will of the Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots.
He said the law fully considers the differences between the two systems and the specific situation of Hong Kong.
It is in line with national laws that maintain national interests and is compatible with Hong Kong’s existing legal system. It also sticks to the principle that only a very few offenders will be targeted and the majority of Hong Kong people will be protected, Li said.
It provides legal support to safeguard national security and Hong Kong’s long-term stability and prosperity, protects foreign investors’ interests in Hong Kong as well as the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents, and guarantees the smooth and steady progress of “one country, two systems”, he added.
Li said the law should be well studied, interpreted, publicized and implemented and relevant parties should accelerate the establishment and improvement of the enforcement mechanism and law enforcement agencies to effectively perform their legal responsibilities.
The HKSAR should also complete legislation as soon as possible and improve relevant local laws, Li said, adding that the SAR should also carry out in-depth education about constitutional order, the rule of law, national security, history and culture to promote patriotic awareness.
The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council voiced resolute support on June 30 for the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong.
The office released a statement after the passage of the law, saying it will fully support and cooperate with implementing the law in the HKSAR.
It called the formulation of the national security law and adding the law to Annex III of the Hong Kong Basic Law a “milestone event” in practicing the “one country, two systems” principle.
The law adheres to the principle of “one country” while taking into account the differences between the “two systems”. It clearly stipulates the four categories of crimes that seriously endanger national security and improves the enforcement mechanism at both the central and local levels, the statement said.
For the very few people who threaten national security, the law is a “high-hanging sword”. For the vast majority of Hong Kong people, as well as foreigners living in Hong Kong, this law serves as a “guardian” of their freedom and peaceful life, the statement said, adding that it will enable Hong Kong to have a more complete legal system, a more stable social order, better rule of law and an improved business environment.
The statement emphasized that the vitality and authority of a law lies in its implementation. After the law takes effect, the relevant central and local law enforcement and judicial organs will perform their duties and prevent criminal activities.
“No intimidation or sanctions can alter Hong Kong’s international economic status, nor can it scare Chinese people,” it said, adding that the central government, the HKSAR government and Chinese people from all walks of life will unite as one to safeguard national security and the long-term stability of the SAR.
The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR also expressed strong support for the passage of the law. The office said in a statement that the NPC Standing Committee conducted the legislative work in a highly responsible, scientific and democratic manner by taking into account opinions from a wide range of Hong Kong society.
The law effectively closes Hong Kong’s legal gaps and demonstrates a high degree of unity between one country and two systems, central governance and local autonomy, as well as national interests and human rights.
The office also pointed out that the central government has carefully evaluated any situation that might occur during the implementation of the national security law. No one should underestimate the central government’s determination and ability to strictly enforce the law.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in a statement on June 30 that the HKSAR government welcomes the passage of the law and will, in accordance with the law’s requirements, establish the Committee for Safeguarding National Security as soon as possible.
Dedicated units of the Hong Kong Police Force and the Department of Justice will be responsible for implementing the relevant legal provisions in the law.
“I am confident that after implementation of the National Security Law, the social unrest which has troubled Hong Kong people for nearly a year will be eased and stability will be restored, thereby enabling Hong Kong to start anew, focus on economic development and improve people’s livelihoods,” she said.
Lam also addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 30. She told the forum in a video message that the enactment of the new national security law will fill a “gaping hole” and will not undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy.
She said national security invariably falls under the purview of the central authorities in any country and legislation to safeguard national security is now “urgently needed” because the region has been “traumatized by escalating violence fanned by external forces”.
She said Hong Kong has seen protesters advocating “Hong Kong independence”, radical young people vandalizing the national emblem and government offices, as well as foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs.
“Once rated as one of the safest cities in the world, security and stability have become relevant concerns,” she said, adding that “no central government could turn a blind eye to such threats”.
Lam emphasized the law will not affect Hong Kong’s renowned judicial independence nor the legitimate rights and freedoms of individuals. As for the objections from other countries, Lam said “all those countries which have pointed their fingers at China have their own national security legislation in place”.
“We could think of no valid reason why China alone should be inhibited from enacting national security legislation to protect every corner of its territory and all of its nationals,” she said, urging the international community to “respect our country’s right to safeguard national security and Hong Kong people’s aspirations for stability and harmony”.
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