Restore and Preserve Stability in Hong Kong Through Legislation
Chinese Ambassador Ma Xinmin to Sudan Publishes Article on Khartoum Today
3 August 2020
On June 30, 2020, China unveiled the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and announced its implementation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), a vital step in establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding the national security in Hong Kong and an important milestone for the practice of “one country, two systems” in the HKSAR. The enactment and enforcement of the National Security Law for Hong Kong gains strong support from the global force for justice as the legislation serves the interests of 1.4 billion Chinese people and is desired and embraced by the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong citizens.
The National Security Law for Hong Kong is aimed at improving the “one country, two systems” institutional system and enacted to maintain the constitutional order in Hong Kong. Safeguarding national security is integral to practicing “one country, two systems”, and enacting national security laws is the responsibility of the central government. Over the past 23 years since Hong Kong’s return to China, the duty of the HKSAR government under the Constitution to enact and pass its own national security legislation to prohibit acts that are harmful to national security, as stipulated by Article 23 of the Basic Law, has not yet been fulfilled. In the face of the real threat to China’s national security that has emerged in Hong Kong, the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its standing committee have the authority and indeed the responsibility to perform the constitutional duty for safeguarding national security. The National Security Law for Hong Kong clarifies the central government’s overarching responsibility and the HKSAR government’s constitutional duty on the issue of safeguarding national security. Through establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the special administrative region, the provisions of the Constitution and of the Basic Law regarding the safeguarding of national security are delivered to the ground. The national security legislation that embodies the principles of “one country” and respects “two systems” introduces improvements to the system of institutions related to the safeguarding of national security in Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” policy and the Basic Law, and effectively protects the constitutional order as defined in the Constitution and the Basic Law.
The National Security Law for Hong Kong is aimed at plugging current legal loopholes in Hong Kong and enacted to build a solid institutional defense for national security. It is obvious that Hong Kong is confronted with legal loopholes and the absence of enforcement mechanisms in the safeguarding of national security, leaving itself defenseless in this regard. The turbulence over proposed legislative amendments last year highlighted the national security risks haunted by Hong Kong. The formulation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong by the NPC Standing Committee is intended to prevent, suppress and impose punishment for the offences of secession, subversion, organization and perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security, which provides strong institutional guarantee for precautions against national security risks to be taken by the HKSAR government. The legislation, seen as a sword above an extremely small number of offenders that seriously jeopardize national security, will act as a deterrent to external forces in an attempt to interfere with affairs relating to the HKSAR. It will surely shore up confidence of the international community in the special administrative region and create more secure and stable domestic and international environments for future development of Hong Kong.
The National Security Law for Hong Kong is aimed at safeguarding the interests of the residents of Hong Kong and enacted to protect the basic human rights of the vast majority of them. It clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, adding that 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 HKSAR enjoy under the Basic Law 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. This legislation will provide strong institutional safeguards for the long-term peace, stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. Imposing sanctions against offences that put national security in danger will create a safe, stable and orderly environment for the Hong Kong residents to better enjoy and exercise their basic rights and freedoms. Additionally, the personal and property safety and various rights and freedoms of the Hong Kong residents, as well as the legitimate rights and interests of foreign businesses and foreigners in Hong Kong, will be better protected.
The National Security Law for Hong Kong is aimed at fostering law-based governance of Hong Kong and enacted to ensure effective handling of national security cases in relation to Hong Kong. It explicitly prescribes that the principle of the rule of law shall be adhered to in safeguarding national security in the HKSAR and the HKSAR government bears the primary responsibility for safeguarding national security in the special administrative region. Meanwhile, the central government retains the power to handle, in accordance with the law, a tiny minority of cases endangering national security, under certain circumstances, while the HKSAR government has the jurisdiction to process the vast majority of cases on its own. The central government jurisdiction will be invoked only when the law enforcement and judicial authorities of the HKSAR are unable to effectively exercise jurisdiction over the cases. The HKSAR government establishes the Committee for Safeguarding National Security which shall have a National Security Advisor. The Police Force and the Department of Justice of the HKSAR respectively set up a specialized law enforcement division and a specialized prosecution division to deal with crimes endangering national security. The Chief Executive of the HKSAR appoints judges responsible for hearing cases that jeopardize national security. The central government sets up the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR charged with investigating a very narrow category of offences that put national security at stake. The Supreme People’s Procuratorate shall designate a prosecuting body to prosecute the cases, and the Supreme People’s Court shall designate a court to adjudicate them. The law enforcement and judicial forces of the HKSAR government and of the central government together underpin the framework of institutions and mechanisms for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. With clear division of work and jurisdiction, the two sides will carry out law enforcement and judicial activities in accordance with their respective laws, and meanwhile, complement, cooperate and coordinate with each other. In this way, offences of all kinds that undermine national security in Hong Kong will be handled in a timely and effective manner.
As the Chinese saying goes, people with petty shrewdness attend to trivial matters, while people with great wisdom attend to governance of institutions. We are convinced that the gradual delivery of the National Security Law for Hong Kong to the ground will ensure the constitutional order of the special administrative region as defined in the Constitution and the Basic Law, better safeguard the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents that they are legally entitled to, and thus preserve the long-lasting peace, stability and prosperity in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is bound to see a turning point to move from turmoil to stability and normality and usher into a new phase for the sound and sustained implementation of “one country, two systems”.