Hong Kong police detain protesters against the new security law during a march marking the anniversary of the Hong Kong handover from Britain to China. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP
Hong Kong police detain protesters against the new security law during a march marking the anniversary of the Hong Kong handover from Britain to China. Picture: Vincent Yu/AP

New security law aims to curb anti-China sentiment

By Paul Tembe Time of article published Jul 6, 2020

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opiOn June30, the Law of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was passed unanimously by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. It took effect at 11pm Beijing time, the same day as its promulgation by the HKSAR government in the gazette.

On the following day, July 1, the HKSAR held its 23rd anniversary of return to the PRC. The mood in the city island stood in sharp contrast to the scenes a year ago when rioters stormed the Legislative Council complex and wreaked havoc inside.

The 23rd anniversary, which coincides with passing of the HKSAR national security law, marks a consequential and final return of the region back to mainland China after 23 years of trials and tribulations.

The promulgation of the HKSAR national security law marks a significant turning point as it aims to ensure stability and allow the city island and its citizens to resume normal lives.

The HKSAR national security law is expansive in an unprecedented way as it seeks to prevent and punish crimes seriously endangering national security, namely secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign elements who seek to endanger national security.

The national security law in HKSAR is part and parcel of a larger legislation that covers and safeguards security and safety of the PRC as a sovereign state.

How does the HKSAR national security law compare to other national security provisions around the world?

Constitutions of more than 100 countries around the world spell out 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 national security, public order and so on. Similar provisions are also encountered in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Detractors who criticise the HKSAR national security law claim that it marks an end to the “one country, two systems policy” agreement. On the contrary, the national security law puts in place grounds upon which to implement the “one country, two systems policy” in a manner that benefits the HKSAR and the entire PRC without interference from outside.

The “one country, two systems policy” clearly states that all matters related to national security and foreign affairs in the HKSAR is a responsibility of the central government in Beijing.

The HKSAR national security law is a welcome instrument for legislatures, industries and general public in that Hong Kong may once again become a jewel of the East and a platform for ushering in investments and growth aimed at prosperity and well-being for the entire population.

The HKSAR national security law aims to eliminate a legal “loophole” previously apparent in the interplay between the HKSAR basic law and “one country, two systems”.

This loophole has been used until recently by the Western-led faction that would criticise China under whatever circumstance. The national security law aims to prevent HKSAR from becoming a fertile ground for peddling anti-China sentiment and a platform for an even larger geopolitical strike from within China’s own sovereign territory.

The discussion and support for the HKSAR national security law in Africa needs to consider the continent's own struggles and common understanding of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

* Tembe is associate professor at the Institute of African Studies Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China. He is also based at the Thabo Mbeki African School of Public and International Relations.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Times

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