On May 28, the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) of China adopted at its third session the Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to Safeguard National Security.
The decision has since been violently criticized by some Western countries and anti-China elements in Hong Kong in an attempt to stigmatize and demonize the decision and confuse the public.
Since the turbulence over the proposed legislative amendments last June, Hong Kong has suffered violent demonstrations and protests, as well as smashing and burning everywhere. Its aviation, retail and tourism industries were dealt a heavy blow. British and American flags and foreigners were seen among the demonstrators.
The prosperity, peace and stability that a law-based Hong Kong is well known for and the national security were seriously threatened. In this context, the National People’s Congress acted decisively and applied the legislation to Hong Kong. We believe this will fulfill immediately the obvious loopholes and deficiencies in national security law in Hong Kong and maintain its prosperity and stability.
It’s absolutely justified for the National People’s Congress, China’s highest legislative body, to make the decision on the national security legislation for Hong Kong. National security is the very foundation for a country to survive and thrive, and no country will ever turn a blind eye to illegal acts that may jeopardize its national security.
National security legislation is within the purview of the central authorities. This is a common practice in all countries, and China is no exception. It has been 30 years since the promulgation of the Basic Law of the HKSAR and 23 years since Hong Kong’s return to China. Yet the legislation required by Article 23 (stating that Hong Kong shall enact laws on its own to prohibit seven types of acts that endanger national security) of the Basic Law is yet to materialize, because of the obstruction by the anti-China, destabilizing elements both in Hong Kong and from the outside.
The legislation targets only acts of secession, subverting state power and organizing and carrying out terrorist activities, as well as interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs by external forces. It is the small minority of criminals jeopardizing national security that will be punished, while the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Hong Kong citizens and foreigners will be protected.
The legislation will not undermine the “one country, two systems” principle. Article I of the NPC’s Decision states clearly, “The country will unswervingly, fully and faithfully implement the principles of ‘one country, two systems’, ‘the people of Hong Kong administering Hong Kong’ and a high degree of autonomy.”
The NPC’s decision to improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR will better guarantee the lawful rights and freedoms that Hong Kong residents enjoy under the law. These include the capitalist system, the high degree of autonomy, the legal system, the independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, as well as the rights and freedoms such as speech, press, publication and assembly.
The national security legislation for Hong Kong has nothing to do with the so-called “breach of international obligations”. The core of the Sino-British joint declaration is about China resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. The basic policies on Hong Kong stipulated in the joint declaration are policy statements made by the Chinese side, which has been fully reflected in the Basic Law of the HKSAR promulgated by the NPC.
ASEAN and Hong Kong are important trading partners of each other. Trade between the two sides grew at an annual average rate of 6.7 percent from 2014 to 2018, reaching HK$1069.7 billion (US$137.9 billion) in 2018. ASEAN has become Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner, only second to the Chinese mainland, and an important source of investment.
Hong Kong is also a key entrepot for trade between ASEAN and the Chinese mainland. ASEAN and the HKSAR signed a free trade agreement and an investment agreement in 2017, and the part concerning Indonesia will come into effect early next month. The prospect for cooperation between the two sides is highly bright.
However, the turbulence in Hong Kong has disrupted its normal commercial exchanges with ASEAN, with a decline in the trade volume between the two sides for the first time in 2019.
ASEAN countries give top priority to national sovereignty and firmly adhere to the principles of international law and the basic norms governing international relations, such as mutual respect for sovereign and territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. To date, ASEAN countries, including Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines, have publicly stated their respect for China’s sovereignty, support for China’s national security legislation for Hong Kong and aspiration for the early resumption of prosperity and stability in Hong Kong, which is highly appreciated by the Chinese side.
Sooner rather than later we’ll be able to dispel the clouds and see the sun, as we often say in Chinese. I’m convinced that with the firm determination of the central authorities and the strong support of people from all walks of life in Hong Kong, the national security legislation for Hong Kong will be put in place as soon as possible, providing sound protection for the financial stability, economic development and the enduring success of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong!
The writer is ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to ASEAN.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.