What’s false and what’s true on national security law for Hong Kong

Wednesday July 8 2020

Organizers of United Front Supporting

Organizers of United Front Supporting National Security Legislation and guests attend a press conference in south China’s Hong Kong, June 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai) 

Prologue

Full of ignorance of and bias against China, some people from certain countries have recently made groundless accusations against and disseminated many fallacies about China’s human rights conditions concerning Hong Kong.

Even a small discrepancy will lead to a great error. Malicious lies will, still worse, result in huge misconception and misunderstanding.

Falsehoods find no market among the fair minded, as we are confident that people will tell right from wrong!

1. False: The legislation on safe-guarding national security in Hong Kong will undermine the human rights and basic freedoms of Hong Kong residents, and violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

True:

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The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding Nation-al Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safe-guarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

 The rights and freedoms, including the freedoms of speech, of the press, of publication, of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration, which the residents of the Region enjoy under the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law.

The legislation only targets four types of offences, namely, secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.

It is designed to deter and sanction a small minority in Hong Kong who are involved in offences seriously jeopardizing national security. It aims to protect the great majority of law-abiding Hong Kong residents, and safeguard their safety and lawful rights and freedoms. It is spelt out in the constitutions of over 100 countries that the exercise of basic rights and freedoms shall not endanger national security.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights makes it clear that freedoms of religious belief, expression and peaceful assembly, the right to public trial and other rights may be subject to restrictions that are necessary to protect nation-al security, public order and so on. There are similar provisions in the European Convention on Human Rights.

2.False: The legislation on safe-guarding national security in Hong Kong may include vaguely defined offences, and be abused by China’s national security authorities to oppress the people.

True:

The legislation only targets four types of offences that seriously jeopardize national security, much less than the dozens of crimes involving national security listed in countries such as the US and the UK.

The legislation sets clear limits on related law enforcement activities. It requires that all law enforcement efforts be conducted in strict accordance with legal provisions and statutory man-dates and procedures, without prejudice to the lawful rights and interests of any individual or organization.

It also provides that the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall perform its mandate in strict compliance with the law and be subject to supervision in accordance with the law. The staff of the Office shall abide by the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as well as national laws.

Countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia have all established rigorous legal frameworks for safeguarding national security, which shows no mercy in combating offences endangering national security.

3.False: The legislation on safe-guarding national security in Hong Kong will make it difficult for foreign businesses in Hong Kong to fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights under the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights of the UN.

True:

The legislation only targets four types of offences, namely, secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. Clearly, these offences are not what law-abiding businesses and residents in Hong Kong would ever engage in. Law abiding trans-national businesses all want to see a Hong Kong back to stability and order.

The implementation of this Law will help them better fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights.

4.False: The Hong Kong police have gotten away with the excessive use of force (such as using chemicals against protesters, committing sexual harassment and assault on female protesters at police stations, and harassing medical workers).

True:

During the turbulence over the amendment bill, the Hong Kong police dealt with hundreds of violent incidents in accordance with the law and police guidelines for months. Yet the radical protesters kept upgrading their equipment, from stones and iron bars to steel ball slingshots, knife attached umbrellas and dangerous chemicals.

Even so, the police all along demonstrated the maximum level of calm, rationality, and restraint, and refrained from the first use of force. They only used force correspondingly to stop violent attacks or other illegal acts threatening the life and safety of other people on site, which is totally in line with international practice.

They acted in a restrained, civil and highly professional manner even when their own lives and safety were threatened by dangerous weapons and violent and illegal activities. In fact, not a single protester in Hong Kong had died because of the law enforcement activity of the police. Yet over 590 police officers had been injured on duty by the end of May.

In sharp contrast to the restrained and professional performance of duty by the Hong Kong police, there are many reports about the US police brutality in the course of law enforcement. Reports show the year 2019 alone saw 1,004 such cases. By mid-June, at least 13 people had lost their lives in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, in addition to hundreds of injuries and over 13.5 thousand arrests.

For example, Linda Tirado, a 37-year-old free-lance writer and journalist, has been left permanently blind in one eye after being shot with rubber bullets by the police during her coverage of protests in Minneapolis.

5. False: The Chinese government has suppressed the protests and the promotion of democracy in Hong Kong.

True:

What has happened since the return of Hong Kong proves that the freedoms of speech, of thepress, of publication, of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration enjoyed by Hong Kong residents in accordance with the law have been fully protected.

Since the turbulence over the amendment bill in June last year, some radical protesters have deliberately stirred up violent incidents.

Their actions have gone far beyond the scope of peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression, and turned into extremist, violent and illegal acts. Such violent acts have blatantly violated laws, posed serious threats to the safety of Hong Kong citizens and openly challenged the sovereignty and dignity of the State. The malicious nature of their acts has been laid bare by clear facts and solid evidence.

Peaceful and reasonable expression of demand is a basic requirement and an intrinsic part of a culturally advanced society based on the rule of law. Having said that, rights must be exercised within the framework of the rule of law, and no demand should be expressed by illegal means, let alone resorting to violence.

The rule of law is the core value of Hong Kong and the corner stone for its long-term stability and prosperity. Ensuring observance of laws and prosecution of lawbreakers is a manifestation of the spirit of the rule of law.

Only by taking zero tolerance toward violence and rioters, can Hong Kong’s law and order be protected and the rule of law upheld. Supporting and conniving at violence and rioters represents a flagrant infringement of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

6. False: The legislation on safe guarding national security in Hong Kong violates China’s commitments and obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

True:

The legal basis for the Chinese government to govern Hong Kong is the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. The Sino-British Joint Declaration is not relevant in this regard. As China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, all provisions concerning the UK under the Joint Declaration had been fulfilled.

The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or “right of supervision” over Hong Kong after its return. The basic policies regarding Hong Kong stated by China in the Joint Declaration are not commitments to the UK, but China’s declaration of its policies, which have since been fully embodied in the Basic Law enacted by the National People’s Congress (NPC). These policies have not changed; they will continue to be upheld by China.

7. False: The legislation on safe guarding national security in Hong Kong has been unilaterally imposed on Hong Kong by the Central Government of China.

True:

National security legislation has always been a matter concerning the sovereignty of the State and within the purview of the Central Authorities. The Central Government of China assumes the primary and ultimate responsibility for safeguarding national security.

As the highest organ of State power in China, the NPC has established and improved, at the State level, the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong.

This is vital for plugging the legal loopholes relating to national security in Hong Kong and effectively protecting national security. It is also a fundamental measure for ensuring the steady and sustained implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems.

Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong SAR shall enact laws on its own to safeguard national security. Nearly 23 years after Hong Kong’s return to China, however, the relevant legislative process is still not materialized due to the sabotage and obstruction by anti-China, destabilizing elements in Hong Kong as well as hostile forces from the outside.

Faced with the grave situation in safeguarding national security in Hong Kong, the Central Government has both the power and the responsibility to promptly plug the loopholes and strengthen the weak links.

The Macao SAR passed in early 2009 its Law on Safeguarding National Security, and has conducted, in a well ordered manner, relevant law enforcement work and study of supportive legislation for safeguarding national security.

In 2018, the Macao SAR Government set up a committee for safeguarding national security to coordinate and enforce local initiatives relating to national security. It has continued to improve its legal system, institutions and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security.

The UK applied the Treason Act to Hong Kong with specialized enforcement agencies during its colonial rule. But now it is opposing the legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong enacted by China’s central authorities. This is pure double standards.

8. False: No meaningful consultation over the legislation on safe guarding national security in Hong Kong was held with the people in Hong Kong. Therefore, the legislation lacks public support.

True:

The legislative process fully demonstrates the shared will of all Chinese people, including the Hong Kong compatriots. In drafting the Law, the Central Authorities and relevant departments had solicited through various means and channels opinions and suggestions from the Chief Executive and other principal officials of the Hong Kong SAR Government, the President of the Legislative Council, representatives from the legal community of Hong Kong, members of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Basic Law Committee, NPC deputies, members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), etc. In the revision and refinement of the draft, the views and suggestions from the Hong Kong SAR Government were care-fully studied and accepted as much as possible, and Hong Kong’s actual conditions were fully considered. Thanks to these efforts, the legislative process was carried out in a well-conceived and democratic way and in accordance with law.

Relevant departments of the Central Authorities held 12 symposiums in Hong Kong, at which 120 representatives from, among others, the political, legal, business, financial, educational, scientific, cultural, religious, youth and labor sectors as well as social and local organizations in Hong Kong candidly expressed their opinions.

The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR received more than 200 written opinions from 36 Hong Kong deputies to the NPC and 190 Hong Kong members of the CPPCC National Committee in a short period of time. People from all walks of life in Hong Kong were also able to express their opinions via email, letters or the official NPC website.

The relevant Decision of the NPC received support from representatives of all sectors in Hong Kong immediately after its release. Nearly three million people in Hong Kong have signed a petition in support of the enactment of the Law, and more than 1.28 million have signed an online petition opposing the interference by the US and other external forces.

9. False: The legislation on safe-guarding national security in Hong Kong marks the end of one country, two systems and deprives Hong Kong of its high degree of autonomy.

True:

The NPC decision makes it clear, from the very beginning, that the State resolutely, fully and faithfully implements the policy of One Country, Two Systems under which Hong Kong people administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. This commitment was reaffirmed in Article 1 of the legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong.

The goal of this legislation is to close the critical loophole in national security in Hong Kong, cement the foundation of One Country, and pro-vide maximum safeguard for Hong Kong to harness the strengths of Two Systems on the basis of upholding One Country.

The enacted legislation will not affect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents under the law. It will not affect the HKSAR’s independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication.

There will be no change to the policy of One Country, Two Systems, the capitalist system, the high degree of autonomy, or the legal system of the Hong Kong SAR.

10. False: The legislation on safe-guarding national security in Hong Kong will jeopardize Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

True:

Quite the contrary, the legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong will contribute to Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. Since the turbulence over proposed legislative amendments last June, the “Hong Kong independence” groups and violent terrorist acts have dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong’s rule of law, economy and livelihood.

The city’s business environment and international image has also been severely damaged. The legislation is designed precisely to reverse that situation. It will help Hong Kong sustain a favorable business environment, consolidate and elevate its status as a financial, trade and shipping center, and bolster the confidence of foreign investors.

After its adoption, the NPC decision received explicit support from many Hong Kong based foreign-invested corporations, including HSBC, Standard Chartered, Swire and Jardines. They are all convinced that the legislation will contribute to the lasting stability of Hong Kong, and serve as the very foundation and prerequisite for all development.

Around the globe, be it New York or London, no international financial center will see its business environment undermined by the enforcement of a national security legislation.

A recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong shows that more than 70 percent of companies don’t have plans to move capital, assets, or business operations from Hong Kong, and more than 60 percent of the respondents personally don’t consider leaving the city. No businesses will turn against opportunities and profits.

The Macao SAR passed its national security legislation in 2009 in accordance with Article 23 of its Basic Law. From 2009 to 2019, Macao’s GDP soared by 153 percent, its number of tourists up by 81 percent, and its overall unemployment rate down to a ten year low.

(Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The People’s Republic of China).