Editor’s note: The following is the second of a series of opinion articles focused on Western forces’ efforts to derail the trial of Jimmy Lai Chee-ying.
In their attempts to “rescue” Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, some Western politicians, especially those in the United States, have come out, one after another, pointing fingers and churning out absurd remarks on Lai’s national security case. In lockstep, some media outlets in the US and the West raved against the law enforcement authorities over Lai’s case in their unveiled attempt to derail the trial. Some Western politicians and media outlets have gone as far as to call for sanctions against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government’s officials and judicial officers, displaying unreserved aggressiveness and enmity. But they are deceiving themselves to assume that they can help Lai escape justice by derailing the trial. Their unscrupulous intervention can only expose their true colors, and their farcical efforts are a disgrace, doomed to failure and humiliation!
Sheer hypocrisy displayed in assaults on NSL
Those American and Western politicians and media outlets have made every effort to vilify the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL) and openly demanded the release of Lai, a suspect on trial, displaying unwarranted arrogance as well as wickedness.
Safeguarding national security is a top priority for all countries at all times. It is perfectly justifiable and natural for China to enact and implement the NSL to safeguard national security when serious national security risks loom in Hong Kong, which is part of China. Some Western countries, including the US, have done their utmost and resorted to all possible solutions to protect national security. For example, the US has outdone the rest of the world in national security legislation in terms of quantity, scope and comprehensiveness. Over recent years, the US has even generalizied the concept of “national security”, and abused domestic judicial procedures to impose long-arm jurisdiction over entities and individuals in other countries, raising eyebrows around the world. However, those US and Western politicians and media outlets have deliberately overlooked these plain facts, and acted like schizophrenics: They spare no effort to demonize the NSL, framing it as a monster, and demanded its abolishment. This is no different from the scenario wherein one has had several security doors installed in his or her own home but insists that a neighbor has no right to secure his or her home with a door lock. What ridiculous logic!
Recently, a British politician went so far as to call on the HKSAR government to drop the prosecution of Lai and release him immediately, and urged the Chinese central government to revoke the NSL. If he is not still sleepwalking in those colonialist “good old days”, he and his ilk in the US and other Western countries who are as grandiloquent as he is must be sober enough to answer the question: How would they deal with a scum like Lai, who blatantly promotes secession and subversion in his country, begs foreign forces to sanction his own motherland, and declares his intention to fight for a foreign country? Will such acts be tolerated even though they have wreaked havoc on the country and harmed public interests? Will they stop prosecuting him and release him immediately? Will they abolish their national security laws? Will they tolerate his traitorous acts that harm the country and the people? Will they call off the prosecution and release him? Will they repeal their own national security laws?
Those US and Western politicians and media outlets have made tremendous efforts to demonize the NSL, peddling unfounded notions of the NSL having “unclear red lines” and “blurred boundaries”, and thus creating a “chilling effect”.The fact is, over the three years since the NSL was implemented, only 285 people have been arrested on suspicion of endangering national security, of which 172 individuals and five companies have been prosecuted. This proves that the NSL targets only a tiny minority while protecting the well-being of the majority. The allegations of “unclear red lines”, “blurred boundaries” and “chilling effect” are totally nonsense.
When it comes to the “strictness” of relevant laws, those in force in the US and some other Western countries top all others. Take the National Security Act 2023, passed by the UK last year for example. After analyzing the provisions of the act meticulously, a senior barrister in Hong Kong has pointed out that under the provisions of the act, any individual can be legally arrested on the condition that the secretary of the state “reasonably believes” that that person “is, or has been, involved in foreign power threat activity”. There is no requirement for a court to give notice to the person to be arrested, and there is no requirement for the person to be heard and given an opportunity to defend himself when the court issues permission for an arrest. A British senior counsel believes that the act confers on the British government a wide range of powers to deal with matters of national security. The act does not even refer to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), let alone the fundamental rights of suspects. In contrast with the NSL, the act obviously has “unclear red lines” and “blurred boundaries”. Do those US and Western politicians and media outlets not see this fact? Essentially, those Western politicians and media outlets regard the NSL as a thorn in their flesh only because it has plugged some loopholes in safeguarding national security in Hong Kong, keeping both internal and external hostile forces at bay, and bringing an end to the era during which the city was “defenseless” against national security threats They have left no stone unturned in vilifying and trying to have the NSL removed so that they could continue to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs, exposing their presumptuousness and wickedness.
Sinister intention to erode confidence in city’s rule of law
Those Western politicians and media outlets have wantonly smeared the rule of law of the city with a vicious intention to erode public confidence in the city’s rule of law.
Perhaps realizing that the above tricks are doomed to failure, those US and Western politicians and media outlets are determined to muddy the waters by targeting the rule of law in Hong Kong, which has long enjoyed high international recognition for its robustness. They have fabricated and circulated all kinds of rumors, claiming that Hong Kong’s judicial independence has been eroded, that its common law system has been altered, and that people have lost confidence in the rule of law of the city. A plethora of slanderous narratives have been concocted for propaganda purposes. But facts speak louder than words, and their slanderous rhetoric collapses in the face of the truth.
Take judicial independence for an example, which is ensured by the Basic Law. Judges and judicial officers in Hong Kong uphold the rule of law without fear; the judiciary professionals in Hong Kong are highly respected for their virtue of being fearless, just, fair and selfless. Some foreign judges serving in the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong have repeatedly said that they have unwavering confidence in Hong Kong’s judicial independence, and believe that the judges are able to adjudicate cases without interference. Why do those US and Western politicians and media outlets turn a deaf ear to this?
Take the common law system, for example. Under the Basic Law, the common law system remains intact in Hong Kong, and its links and exchanges with other common-law jurisdictions have been strengthened. The fundamental principles of the common law system, including but not limited to stare decisis and due process, have been upheld by Hong Kong’s judiciary. The precedents of Hong Kong courts have been frequently cited by courts in other common-law jurisdictions. On what basis do those US and Western politicians and media outlets conclude that Hong Kong’s common law system has been altered?
As the Chinese proverb goes, “A praying mantis cannot stop a moving chariot; and an ant can never shake a tree.” In the same vein, the noises created by and the stunts performed by the external forces cannot shake the HKSAR’s determination to uphold the rule of law and safeguard national security, nor can they interrupt the city’s steady transition from chaos to order and prosperity, as well as the smooth and sustainable implementation of “one country, two systems” and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation
Contrary to the doom-and-gloom narratives of those Western politicians and media outlets, Hong Kong has seen an increase in confidence in its rule of law among local residents and foreign companies operating in the city after the SAR transitioned from chaos to order. The fact is, Hong Kong continues to lead a number of Western countries, including the United States, in the “World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2023” ranking; and the city is the third-most popular arbitration venue in the world. The city now hosts the Asia-Pacific Regional Office of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre of the Asia-Africa Legal Consultative Organization, and the Preparatory Office of the International Court of Mediation. All these are a vote of confidence in Hong Kong’s rule of law. Yet those US and Western politicians and media outlets are trying to “stigmatize” the rule of law in Hong Kong but only expose their sinister intention in the process.
Attempts to derail Lai’s trial attest to collusion
Those US and Western politicians and media outlets are desperately pressuring the HKSAR by repeatedly attacking and calling for sanctions against HKSAR government officials and judicial officers, which further attests to their collusion with anti-China proxies in Hong Kong like Lai. They are sounding the “death knell” for the accelerated demise of the external hostile forces’ proxies in Hong Kong.
As Lai’s trial proceeds, some politicians and media outlets in the US and other Western countries are going crazy, scrambling to interfere by piling pressure on the HKSAR and the judges hearing the case. Motions, reports and “joint statements” have been generously produced, vociferously demanding “the immediate and unconditional release of Lai and other political prisoners”. Astoundingly, some politicians called their interference in Lai’s case “a national priority”, asserting that they will join hands with allies to put pressure on China. Some politicians have sung in chorus with Sebastian Lai, Jimmy Lai’s son, and his so-called “international team of lawyers”, facilitating their political lobbying for Jimmy Lai. Some politicians have come up with “resolutions” and “bills” with sanction threats to intimidate HKSAR government officials and judicial officers. Some Western media outlets have acted as Lai’s “agents” and “defenders”, echoing the narratives of those politicians and churning out fake news about a key witness in Lai’s case having been “tortured”. Some staff members of Western consulates in Hong Kong have disregarded diplomatic norms and made high-profile appearances at the court to show their support for Lai under the guise of “observers”.
The fact that those US and Western politicians are so furious about Lai’s trial and have blatantly and unscrupulously interfered in his case proves that they are the “political masters” of those anti-China agitators in Hong Kong who served them like lackeys. Their ugly performances have helped people to better realize the severity of the offenses committed by the anti-China agitators such as those Lai has allegedly committed and recognize the need to severely punish those offenders in accordance with the law. They have also strengthened HKSAR government officials’ and judiciary officers’ determination to safeguard national security, and enhance social solidarity in resisting external intervention. The HKSAR government and the judiciary have unambiguously stated that they are determined to carry out their responsibility to safeguard national security fearlessly. Various organizations and representatives of the Hong Kong community have expressed their support for government officials and the judiciary in safeguarding national security and the rule of law in Hong Kong in accordance with the law.
The central government has solemnly declared that it firmly supports the HKSAR in fully and accurately implementing the NSL, firmly safeguarding national security and defending the rule of law, and will spare no effort to protect the lawful rights and interests of HKSAR government officials and judicial officers. Facts have proved and will continue to prove that for the Chinese people, with their compatriots in Hong Kong included, the threats and intimidation of those US and Western politicians and the media outlets are as meaningless as the buzzing of a swarm of flies.
As the Chinese proverb goes, “A praying mantis cannot stop a moving chariot; and an ant can never shake a tree.” In the same vein, the noises created by and the stunts performed by the external forces cannot shake the HKSAR’s determination to uphold the rule of law and safeguard national security, nor can they interrupt the city’s steady transition from chaos to order and prosperity, as well as the smooth and sustainable implementation of “one country, two systems” and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
HONG KONG NEWS