Chinese Ambassador Cong on new Hong Kong Law

By Cong Peiwu, Chinese Ambassador to Canada

The national security law for the HKSAR ensures the steady implementation of "one country, two systems"

A few days ago, the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was adopted at the 20th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee. And the NPC Standing Committee formulated this law and listed it in Annex III to the HKSAR Basic Law which has been gazetted and enacted in Hong Kong by the SAR government. This is a fundamental solution for Hong Kong to restore order, end chaos and resume stability. It is a landmark in the practice of "one country, two systems".

Since the turbulence over proposed legislative amendments last year, Hong Kong has witnessed and experienced continuous social unrest, escalating street violence, and rampant "Hong Kong independence" rhetoric and actions, and blatant external interference in Hong Kong's affairs, which has grossly trampled on China's sovereignty, security and development interests. As a result, Hong Kong has been plunged into the gravest situation since its return. For instance, the city has lost the title of the world's freest economy it had held for 25 years. Its GDP registered negative growth for the first time in a decade, and the unemployment rate hit a record high in nearly 10 years. Those who truly care about and love Hong Kong do not want to see such situation to continue there.

The central government bears the largest and the ultimate responsibility for safeguarding national security. Establishing and improving at the state level a legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the HKSAR is a major measure to stay committed to and improve the "one country, two systems" framework, and a fundamental way to preserve Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. It has highlighted the firm resolve of the central government to fully and faithfully implement "one country, two systems."

The national security law for the HKSAR addresses the most imminent risks to national security in Hong Kong, targets the four categories of crimes including secession, subversion, terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security. The law also clearly stipulates that the rights and freedoms, including right to free expression, including press and publication work, and freedom of assembly, procession and demonstration, enjoyed by HKSAR residents under the Basic Law of the HKSAR 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 security law will serve as a "sharp sword" hanging over a tiny number of criminals endangering national security. But for the vast majority of Hong Kong residents, including foreigners in Hong Kong, the law is the "guardian" of their rights, freedoms and peaceful life. The legislation for Hong Kong will not change the "one country, two systems" principle. It will not change the capitalist system or the high degree of autonomy practiced in Hong Kong. It will not change the legal system in the HKSAR. Nor will it affect the HKSAR's executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication.

The national security law for the HKSAR is firmly supported by the mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong and the forces of justice in the international community. 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. 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 and support for the legislation. At the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council held recently, more than 70 countries voiced their support for China's legislation and urged certain countries to immediately stop interfering China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Hong Kong. It illustrates a simple truth: fair-minded people can tell right from wrong.

Standard and Poor's (S&P), an international credit rating agency, recently released a report, saying that with the national security law for the HKSAR coming into effect, the autonomy of the HKSAR government in formulating economic policies in accordance with the Basic Law will not be affected. S&P has affirmed its AA+ issuer credit ratings on Hong Kong and maintained the outlook as stable. The above fact shows international investors' confidence in Hong Kong's future.

This legislation takes into full consideration the realistic needs of safeguarding national security and the specific conditions of the HKSAR and sets out systemic and comprehensive provisions regarding a legal system and enforcement mechanisms at both national and SAR levels. This upholds the constitutional order in the HKSAR established by the Constitution and the Basic Law. In the legislative process, the central authorities and relevant departments had solicited through various means and channels opinions and suggestions from all sectors of HKSAR to ensure the lawmaking in a well-conceived and democratic way and in accordance with law. Relevant central departments had solicited opinions from principal leading officials of the HKSAR government, legal experts in Hong Kong, Hong Kong deputies to the NPC and Hong Kong members of the CPPCC National Committee, and also opened online and offline channels through Hong Kong social organizations to listen to the views of various sectors of the Hong Kong community and take the fair suggestions, so as to ensure that the legislative process of the national security law for the HKSAR conforms to Hong Kong’s overwhelming opinion.

Hong Kong is part of China, and Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs and brook no external interference. With the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong, the city will usher in a new historical opportunity to end chaos, resume stability and return to normal, and the “one country, two systems” will embrace a long-term and steady development. We are convinced that its implementation will strengthen Hong Kong's legal framework, ensure social order, improve business environment, and benefit Hong Kong citizens and international investors including Canada. We have every confidence in the bright prospects of Hong Kong.

Header image courtesy: South China Morning Post