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Published: 00:46, August 15, 2022 | Updated: 10:07, August 15, 2022
Faithful prosecutors will remain unbowed by US sanction threats
By Mervyn Cheung
Published:00:46, August 15, 2022 Updated:10:07, August 15, 2022 By Mervyn Cheung

With the evil intent to undermine China glued on its foreign policy, the United States’ political leadership has raged beyond all bounds of rationality and diplomacy in preying on people who are only doing professional jobs within their areas of specialty, totally unconnected with the US’ political hunting targets. This has recently happened when a government agency in the US threatened to impose sanctions against 15 Hong Kong prosecutors over their duty in handling national-security-related cases occurring in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The farce came about when members of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), after skimming developments in the Hong Kong and Macao SARs, urged US President Joe Biden to consider issuing sanctions on prosecutors from the HKSAR’s Department of Justice over the role these public officers were perceived to play by the American authorities in the fabricated “failure of China” to implement the Sino-British Joint Declaration and for the unfounded “arbitrary detention” of individuals. Understandably, this is the typical tactic employed by the US administration to find faults with foreign nationals for which even the victims themselves are at a loss. In Hong Kong, arrests of suspects in criminal offenses are not made by prosecutors, and this is already one baseless accusation against them.

In the letter to Biden after the CECC hearing, it weirdly claims that the “erosion” of the rule of law and human rights in Hong Kong “threatens” the interests of the US and the world, which are argued to be tied to the so-called rights protection and investor confidence in the legal system. For these allegations, the letter also claims that the inquiry in question would look into the responsible part the SAR’s justice authorities and criminal prosecutors play in the “setback” in protecting the rule of law and human rights in the city.

The CECC lodged ungrounded representation against those prosecutors over the arrests of people on riot-related offenses in the anti-extradition protests in 2019. To its members, the additional sanctions of those in Hong Kong who are carrying out for decades their community-endorsed duties as faithful public servants could be construed most absurdly as representing “a tangible demonstration” of the US’ interest in “the PRC and Hong Kong authorities upholding their international legal obligations”. This is but another blatant attempt at interfering in China’s internal affairs and the HKSAR’s affairs.

Some US politicians have insisted that erosion of the rule of law and civil rights did occur in Hong Kong in the turbulent year of 2019. While this might be telling the truth, the mishap as identified was not engendered by any deliberate action on the part of the HKSAR government, but turned up as an exclusive result of the anti-extradition turmoil incited by the external forces through collusion with the city’s opposition factions, targeting to foil local governance, and China’s national security and territorial integrity, as well as ruining public and private property and stripping others of the rights to express themselves freely. In forging their pretexts to rail against China and its HKSAR, the US authorities seem to have ignored that these are unyieldingly the legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong residents, who should never be treated as pawns in any of the crafty stratagems of the US and its allies.

Had it not been for the swift passage of the National Security Law for Hong Kong, the city could hardly have skipped the fate of plunging into a total anarchy, a scenario that some Western politicians were only too eager to witness. Driven by hegemonic interests that were willfully disguised as moves to fight for democracy and freedoms for Hong Kong residents, such subversive activities indeed placed local people’s rights and well-being into dire jeopardy.

Without whatever doubt, the timely enactment of the NSL by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing empowered the HKSAR to head off a political catastrophe amid the anti-extradition disturbances hailed as a “beautiful sight” by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. While failing to capitalize on the 2019 turmoil for turning Hong Kong into an enclave for extreme politics believed to be causing trouble at the southern tip of its vast territorial map, major political parties in the US have not paused demonizing and destabilizing the city.

There is no denial that any willful acts to tamper with the rule of law and human rights in Hong Kong will get on the nerves of overseas businesses in the city and rapidly develop into a concern of global magnitude, given the city’s reputable standing as “a model of prosperity and political stability”. For precisely these vital considerations, the central authorities on the mainland enacted at the critical time the NSL for enforcement in the HKSAR to restore the long-awaited peace, stability and rule of law in order to salvage the city from falling into the hands of culprits rioting under the commands from the manipulating foreign forces. It’s only in this way that the HKSAR government, working with the full support of Beijing, was able to rekindle the “investor confidence” in the HKSAR’s sustained prosperity and political tranquility.

It’s beyond dispute that pro-democracy activities could take place and thrive in peace and harmony. Yet the anti-extradition demonstrations in 2019 were unmistakably violent in nature and government-toppling in substance, which went far beyond the limits under the rule of law. The grave misbehavior of the rioters, marking the most tumultuous period in the city’s history, demanded stern and incisive measures to tackle it. It’s not uncommon that nations around the world resort to hardened strategies and powerful means to quell massive violence-driven protests. In the local arena, mobsters were arrested in the 2019 riots primarily not as political prisoners but over deliberate criminal offenses under the rule of law.

Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok rebuked the wild charge against the prosecutors’ role in handling the national-security-related cases by calling it “plainly an act of intimidation”, which he firmly believes would not be able to discourage or deter his team of public officials from assisting or serving the local government. The valiant public prosecutors, and indeed the city’s entire legal sector, genuinely care about the HKSAR and would make their best professional effort to contribute to its justice system, which is vital for sustaining the city’s prosperity and attractiveness to talents and investors from around the world.

The author is a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. 

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