Implementation of National Security Law in HKSAR reflects will of the Chinese people
Recently, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) has enacted a draft law on safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as the draft), in accordance with the relevant decision adopted by the NPC on promoting the national security legislation in the HKSAR.
In order to help South African friends get a better understanding of the relevant content of the draft, so as to respect and support China's efforts to safeguard national security in the HKSAR in accordance with the law, here we would like to give further explanations on the issues which you may be interested in.
Will the relevant law violate the Basic Law of HKSAR?
The answer is definitely NO. The Article 18 of the Basic Law provides for laws concerning national defense, diplomacy and other matters that are not within the scope of the autonomy of the HKSAR in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law. In a broad sense, both diplomacy and national defence aim to safeguard a country’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. The goal of national security legislation is essentially the same as that of diplomacy and national defense. The national security affairs, just like diplomacy and national defense, are within the jurisdiction of the Central Government and obviously not within the scope of the autonomy of the HKSAR. Hong Kong is a local administrative region directly under the Central Government of China. As the top legislature of China, the NPC has the full authority and legitimate power to enact the national security law in the HKSAR.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law. Regrettably, now 30 years have passed, but the Article 23 of the Basic Law, which states the obligation of HKSAR legislation to safeguard national security, has still not been completed, leaving the HKSAR in a completely unguarded vacuum state of national security. This is rare and extremely abnormal in the world. In view of the severe situation faced by the HKSAR in safeguarding national security, the relevant NPC legislation aims to plug the legal loopholes and shore up the institutional weak links of the HKSAR in safeguarding national security, improve the HKSAR’s system and mechanism in safeguarding national security as well as the system for implementing the Basic Law, so as to consolidate the foundation of “one country, two systems” and maintain the long-term stability and prosperity of the HKSAR.
Will the relevant law impair HKSAR’s independent jurisdiction?
The answer is also NO. The draft law makes stipulations on what constitutes four categories of crimes that threaten national security and their corresponding penalties, including secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security as well as the enforcement mechanism and litigation procedures.
The HKSAR shoulders the primary responsibility for safeguarding national security. The HKSAR shall and must do most of the work in this regard, including law enforcement and judicial work. Meanwhile, the Central Government also maintains the jurisdiction over the crimes that severely undermine the national security in the HKSAR under very special circumstances, which reflects the Central Government’s full governance and jurisdiction. It will only reinforce the HKSAR’s law enforcement and judicial work regarding safeguarding national security. It will not replace the responsibility of the relevant institutions in the HKSAR, or affect the independent jurisdiction and final adjudication enjoyed by the HKSAR in accordance with the Basic Law.
Why should the Central Government set up a National Security Office in HKSAR and the Government of Hong Kong establish a National Security Commission?
For a long time, the HKSAR does not have the enforcement mechanism to safeguard the national security, and its establishment of national security institutions, deployment of forces, and allocation of law enforcement powers are incomplete and imperfect. Nor does the HKSAR government have a special body responsible for gathering intelligence on national security and guarding against external interference. The weaknesses and deficiencies in the HKSAR’s ability to safeguard national security are one of the important reasons for the gradual expansion of the “Hong Kong Independence” elements and the escalation of violent and terrorist activities in the HKSAR in recent years. In view of this, the draft stipulates the fundamental responsibility of the Central Government for relevant national security affairs and the constitutional responsibility of the HKSAR to safeguard national security. It also stipulates that the Central Government shall set up a National Security Office in the HKSAR and that the HKSAR shall set up a National Security Commission.
The Central Government of China assumes the primary and ultimate responsibility for safeguarding the national security in the HKSAR. The National Security Office set up by the Central Government and the National Security Commission set up by the HKSAR will make up a full-fledged system to perform the duty of safeguarding the national security in the HKSAR, which shall improve HKSAR’s institutions and system for safeguarding national security to crack down on all kinds of activities endangering national security more forcefully and effectively.
Will the relevant law infringe on the rights and freedom of Hong Kong residents?
The answer is also NO. The draft stipulates that safeguarding national security shall respect and guarantee human rights, and protect the rights and freedom that all Hong Kong residents enjoy under the Basic Law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, including the freedom of speech, press, publication, association, assembly and demonstration. The vast majority of law-abiding Hong Kong citizens have nothing to worry about as the national security legislation will do the utmost to protect rather than undermine human rights.
The explanation made by the NPC on the draft not only emphasizes the fundamental responsibility of the Central Government, but also highlights the principal responsibility of the HKSAR. It takes into full account the high degree of autonomy and legal differences in the HKSAR and strikes a balance between safeguarding national security and guaranteeing the legitimate rights and freedom of Hong Kong people. The national security legislation in the HKSAR is a sword hanging over a very small handful of people engaged in activities endangering national security, and it is an institutional guarantee of human rights for the patriotic and law-abiding Hong Kong people. This is why the relevant legislation has received widespread support from the Hong Kong compatriots and the international community.
Does the relevant law conflict with the Sino-British Joint Declaration?
As an important historical document, the Sino-British Joint Declaration has successfully resolved issues left over from history and set an example for the peaceful settlement of disputes in the world. The core of this document is China's restoration of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. China’s basic policy towards Hong Kong in this document is China’s unilateral policy announcement, instead of a consensus reached by China and the UK, let alone a commitment to the UK. With China’s restoration of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, all the rights and obligations set out in the declaration on the part of the UK have been fully fulfilled. The document does not stipulate that the UK shall take any responsibility regarding Hong Kong, so it can by no means serve as a pretext for the UK or any other country to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs. The UK has no sovereignty, no jurisdiction and no so-called “supervision” over Hong Kong after its return to the motherland.
After Hong Kong’s return, the legal basis for the Central Government to govern the HKSAR is China’s Constitution and the Basic Law. The source of the Basic Law is China’s Constitution, rather than the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The principles and policies set forth by China in the Sino-British Joint Declaration have been incorporated into the Basic Law and implemented in a faithful and effective manner. There is no such thing as China not complying with the joint declaration. The basic policy of the Chinese government towards Hong Kong, including the delegation of a high degree of autonomy to Hong Kong, is the declaration of the policy of the Chinese Central Government, which will be firmly implemented in accordance with China’s Constitution and the Basic Law.
The early implementation of the national security law in the HKSAR is legitimate and lawful, which reflects the will of the people and the trend of the times. The mainstream media in the HKSAR believe that the content of the draft speaks volumes about such defining features as relying on the SAR, protecting human rights, taking into account the characteristics of common law and ensuring the effective implementation of the law to the greatest extent. It fully demonstrates that the national security law in the HKSAR takes into account the differences and aims to improve the “one country, two systems”.
Over just a few days, nearly 3 million Hong Kong citizens have voluntarily signed to show support to the national security legislation. The stable performance of Hong Kong’s stock and property markets in recent days also fully reflects the confidence of Hong Kong citizens and foreign investors in the national security law. It is believed that with the enactment and implementation of this law, the HKSAR will have a more full-fledged legal system, a more stable social order and a better rule of law and business environment. The HKSAR, the pearl of the orient, will regain its vitality.