A year has passed since the National Security Law for Hong Kong took effect on June 30 last year. The new law has won strong public support for putting an end to the “black revolution” and restoring social order and stability in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, the city still faces the threat of “lone-wolf-style” homegrown terrorism by extremist followers of the “mutual destruction” camp. The SAR government must not be complacent and Hong Kong residents, in general, should fulfill their constitutional obligations by supporting the SAR government in completing local legislation of national security according to Article 23 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
It’s safe to say the National Security Law promulgated by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for enforcement in the HKSAR more than a year ago is a great milestone in exercising “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, but greater efforts are needed to continuously improve the enforcement mechanisms of the National Security Law. Otherwise, Hong Kong may find itself constantly threatened by lone-wolf terrorism, such as the knife attack on a police officer by a suicidal follower of the “mutual destruction” camp on the night of July 1 in Causeway Bay.
Prevention is the best way to contain crimes against national security and ensure the safety of Hong Kong society. It also requires concerted efforts of the public, as well as the SAR government, including the Legislative Council and the judiciary
The National Security Law has filled a critical blank in Hong Kong’s legal framework regarding its responsibility to safeguard national security. So far, it has proved instrumental in strengthening the rule of law in Hong Kong by allowing the HKSAR to crush the “black revolution” and restore peace and order, so that residents, as well as the SAR government, can focus on defeating the COVID-19 pandemic and returning to normal life.
So far, the Hong Kong Police Force has arrested 115 individuals suspected of undermining national security under the National Security Law. Some of them have been charged with multiple national security offenses, while some of their accomplices have fled overseas. Radical groups that openly engaged in separatist activities have been disbanded or gone underground for the time being, along with anti-China media entities run by cronies of certain Western powers. While the fight against COVID-19 continues, local residents are generally relieved of the fear of being attacked with bricks and even incendiary devices in street violence by mindless rioters in the name of democracy and freedom during the “black revolution”. Businesses that often had to close due to the widespread criminal vandalism from June 2019 through June 2020 can now reopen at least without the fear of having their premises damaged.
In the past year or so, Hong Kong has seen a 50 percent surge in the total value of funds raised in initial public offerings, compared with the previous year — a sign of investor confidence in the city, thanks to the enactment of the National Security Law. The total value of shares traded daily on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has grown by 70 percent from a year earlier. Local property prices have hit new highs, while the Hong Kong dollar’s exchange rate remains strong, as does foreign investment in the SAR. The fact is, Hong Kong’s status as an international finance center has strengthened since the National Security Law was promulgated, contrary to what Western media claimed.
The National Security Law has won wholehearted popular support as it has helped Hong Kong crush the “black revolution”, restore peace and order, as well as the rule of law, and allow the city to refocus on socioeconomic development. Multiple opinion polls by various institutions have shown that an absolute majority of Hong Kong residents believe the National Security Law has had a positive effect since its promulgation. A recent poll conducted by the Bauhinia Institute found that nearly 76 percent of respondents are satisfied with the results after the National Security Law was enforced — a new high since its promulgation. A similar poll by the Hong Kong Research Association showed that 63 percent of those interviewed were convinced the National Security Law has not harmed the city’s business environment, while more than half of the respondents supported local legislation on national security matters according to Article 23 of the Basic Law. Evidently, public support for the National Security Law is widespread and strong in Hong Kong because it protects the rights and freedoms of the great majority of its residents from being trampled upon by anti-government forces.
That said, a small number of die-hard extremists have not given up undermining national security and public order by sowing fear in Hong Kong society with lone-wolf acts of terrorism, such as the knife attack on the police officer on July 1. The case of domestic terrorism added to police arrests of a man for possessing explosive devices in his flat, and nine other suspects plotting a bomb attack. A connection has yet to be established between these terrorist acts, but there’s little doubt that other terrorist wannabes are waiting to strike again. Given the presence of terrorism advocates, bankrollers and influencers clamoring for more “anti-Communist martyrs” on social media, it’s a foregone conclusion that Hong Kong has a long way to go in perfecting the National Security Law enforcement mechanisms, as well as its own statutory infrastructure and enforcement against domestic terrorism and other politically motivated crimes.
Prevention is the best way to contain crimes against national security and ensure the safety of Hong Kong society. It also requires concerted efforts of the public, as well as the SAR government, including the Legislative Council and the judiciary. The latter two are particularly crucial as they’re responsible for building the statutory foundation and administering justice according to existing laws respectively. Everyone should play their part in guaranteeing the effectiveness of the rule of law in Hong Kong, especially in matters concerning national security, without which there’ll be no lasting stability and prosperity for the community.
The author is a current affairs commentator.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS