Deputies to the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) approved the NPC Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to Safeguard National Security at the closing meeting of the NPC annual session on May 28.
By plugging the loopholes in the legal system on safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, the NPC Decision can ensure sound and sustained implementation of “one country, two systems”.
The adoption of the Decision reflects central government’s strong willpower and determination in safeguarding national security, as well as maximum sincerity to care for and protect the interests of the HKSAR and the well-being of Hong Kong compatriots. It is of significant and far-reaching influences.
National security is a basic prerequisite for the survival and development of a country, and it is related to the country’s core interests. Since the return of Hong Kong to the motherland, China has been firmly implementing the principles of “one country, two systems,” “the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong,” and a high degree of autonomy. The practice of “one country, two systems” has achieved universally recognized success in Hong Kong.
But the practice also encountered new circumstances and problems, and is facing new risks and challenges. The increasingly notable national security risks in the HKSAR have become a prominent problem.
Since the turbulence over proposed anti-extradition bill amendments last June, China has seen increasingly rampant activities by “Hong Kong independence” organizations and radical localists in Hong Kong, escalating violence and terrorist activities as well as excessive foreign meddling in Hong Kong affairs.
All this has gravely challenged the bottom line of the practice of “one country, two systems”, trampled on rule of law, and put national sovereignty, security, and development interests in serious jeopardy. Under such circumstances, China must take effective measures to prevent, stop, and punish the violations in accordance with law.
The rule of law is a basic principle of national governance. Currently, various activities that endanger national security are intensifying in Hong Kong, and an important reason is that there are obvious legal loopholes and lack of enforcement mechanisms in safeguarding national security in Hong Kong.
For example, national security legislation in Hong Kong stipulated by the Article 23 of the HKSAR Basic Law has been stigmatized and demonized and is yet to materialize until now, which marks a severe deficiency of the HKSAR in terms of maintaining national security.
The central government of a country has the greatest and ultimate responsibility to safeguard the country’s national security. Legislation on national security is undoubtedly within the purview of the central authorities.
Article 23 of the Basic Law of the HKSAR stipulates that the HKSAR shall enact laws on its own to prohibit seven types of acts that endanger national security.
This is a special arrangement under “one country, two systems”, and it does not affect the central government’s continued construction of a legal system and enforcement mechanism to maintain national security and improve relevant legislation and enforcement systems according to actual conditions and needs.
When national security is threatened and seriously damaged in Hong Kong and when the HKSAR government fails to complete its own legislation on national security, the NPC, as the highest organ of state power, is totally entitled and required to make relevant decisions in accordance with the powers granted by the Constitution, and authorize its Standing Committee to punish acts such as splitting the country, subverting state power, and organizing and carrying out terrorist activities, as well as interfering in the affairs of the HKSAR by external forces.
Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can people live in peace and enjoy their work?
The NPC legislation does not target the ordinary Hong Kong residents but a tiny number of people suspected of endangering national security.
The law-based freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of the press enjoyed by Hong Kong residents will not be disturbed, and their legal rights and freedoms will be better protected in a safe environment of Hong Kong.
As facts have indicated, when a national security loophole is wide open, the entire society will pay a painful price. Only with a solid foundation of national security and a stable overall social situation can the basic rights and freedoms be better protected, deep-rooted contradictions in the economy and people’s livelihood be solved, and the institutional advantages of “one country, two systems” be fully exploited to gain more development room for Hong Kong.
Safeguarding national security is at the core of the “one country, two systems” principle. “One country” is the premise and basis for the implementation of the “two systems” and the “two systems” is subordinated and derived from the “one country” and unified within it.
The most important requirement of “one country” is to safeguard national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity. It should be pointed out that the HKSAR still has the constitutional responsibility and legal obligation to maintain national security in accordance with Article 23 of the HKSAR Basic Law, and the special administrative region must complete the national security legislation stipulated in Article 23 of the Basic Law at an earlier date. Any legislation to safeguard national security and its implementation must not conflict with the NPC Decision.
A flourishing country and people living in peace and harmony is the most basic and universal aspiration of the people and safeguarding national security has the deepest and broadest foundation of public opinion.
A prosperous and stable Hong Kong meets the expectations of all parties. We believe that with effectively guaranteed national security, Hong Kong will surely become better, and continue to write a new chapter of economic prosperity and happiness for the citizens and make unique and important contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.