Published: 02:51, May 22, 2020 | Updated: 02:06, June 6, 2023
HK hails NPC decision to close national security loophole
By He Shusi and Chen Zimo

Hong Kong political heavyweights from various sectors on Thursday praised a decision by the nation’s top legislature to deliberate a draft resolution on establishing and improving a legal system for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region that would safeguard national security.

They said a national security law is urgently needed and will be right and proper following blatant challenges to the “one country, two systems” in recent years. Without such a law, the interests of Hong Kong will be seriously undermined, they warned.

The remarks came after a press conference on Thursday night by the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, ahead of its annual session in Beijing.

In its agenda for the third plenary meeting of the 13th NPC, the national legislature will discuss the draft resolution put forward by the NPC Standing Committee. Details of the bill will be revealed today when the NPC session opens.

Due to continued chaos and violent protests in Hong Kong, it is important, necessary, legitimate and urgent to have national security legislation in the SAR. This is to safeguard the 'one country, two systems' principle, and protect the interests of Hong Kong residents 

Nicholas Chan Hiu-fung, 

lawyer

The much-criticized loophole in Hong Kong’s legal system has been caused by the failure to enact Article 23 of the Basic Law since 1997. The Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong SAR shall enact laws on its own to prohibit national security offenses such as treason, succession, sedition and subversion. 

Nicholas Chan Hiu-fung, a Hong Kong deputy to the NPC, who is also a lawyer, said enacting a national security law in the city would finally close the loophole.

Chan said that due to continued chaos and violent protests in Hong Kong, it is “important, necessary, legitimate and urgent” to have national security legislation in the SAR. This is to safeguard the “one country, two systems” principle, and protect the interests of Hong Kong residents, he stressed. 

Chan said the need for such a law had been reinforced because violence and chaos by local separatists and external influences show no signs of easing.

Another deputy to the NPC, Stanley Ng Chau-pei, agreed, saying the proposal was “timely and reasonable” to address current loopholes in the city’s national security law. This weak link in national security has plunged Hong Kong into unprecedented chaos and affected people’s livelihoods over the past year, Ng said.

The opposition camp might try every means possible to derail the legislation — even with the aid of foreign forces as they had done before, Ng predicted.

Their actions testify to the urgent need for such legislation, and the determination of people to protect the city will not waver, he added.

Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said the bill is a response to a spate of activities in Hong Kong aimed at undermining the principle of “one country, two systems”.

It is the public’s responsibility to uphold the principle of “one country, two systems” and safeguard national security. Once Hong Kong becomes a weak link in national security, the city’s own interests will suffer, Tam explained.

The NPC’s national security bill will only improve and reinforce implementation of the principle of “one country, two systems”, Tam said.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, believes the central government has a “strong urgency” to end the chaos in Hong Kong — where violence is escalating. Opposition lawmakers have been resorting to a “If we burn, you burn with us” mentality. There has also been incessant interference by foreign forces in Hong Kong affairs, Lau noted.

There is a growing trend of the city’s younger generation being misled by separatist forces to challenge the “one country, two systems” principle and undermine the nation’s dignity and sovereignty, Lau said.

Closing the loophole is relevant and urgent at a time the United States is using the SAR as a bargaining chip to contain China, he added.

Jonathan Choi Koon-shum, chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said the national security law should not be delayed as national sovereignty and security cannot be threatened; there can be no room for compromise, Choi said.

Choi said the national security legislation, which only covers very serious crimes such as sedition, theft of state secrets, and subversion against the central government, will not affect the city’s business operations, nor people’s human rights and freedom of speech.

He added that it is a common practice to have such legislation. Some Western countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and France, all have such laws, Choi said.

heshusi@chinadailyhk.com