Pressing need for National Security Law
“One Country, Two Systems” reinforced
Rights and freedoms unaffected
24 May 2020
As an important basis for the stability of a country, national security is the best safeguard for the well-being of its people.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), being an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China and a local administrative region which enjoys a high degree of autonomy and comes directly under the Central People’s Government, bears the constitutional responsibility to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, security and development interests. Protecting national security is hence a natural responsibility to be shared by our society as a whole and concerns the vital interests of all Hong Kong people.
Legislation is legal, constitutional, necessary and urgent
Hong Kong is intricately bound with the Motherland. We have a shared future and will succeed or fail as one. Over the past year, some people have forsaken the fundamental interests of Hong Kong by deliberately and seriously crossing the important baseline of the “One Country” principle, sabotaging the relationship between the Central People’s Government and the HKSAR, threatening China’s sovereignty and national security, as well as challenging the authority of the Central Authorities and the Basic Law. Some of them even openly advocated “Hong Kong independence” and “self-determination”, ruthlessly incited illegal acts and seriously jeopardised public safety by extremist deeds verging on terrorism. There were people who recklessly desecrated and burned the national flag, vandalised the national emblem, stormed the offices of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong, attacked Chinese enterprises and begged for foreign intervention and even sanctions on Hong Kong. What’s more, some proclaimed that they would paralyse the HKSAR Government. Such radical doctrine and unlawful violence are extremely worrying and must be addressed. Otherwise, the situation may be escalated to the level of endangering national security.
There is undeniably a loophole in the laws of the HKSAR when it comes to safeguarding national security. In view of the increasingly serious situation that Hong Kong is facing in relation to national security and the difficulty of the executive and legislative authorities of the HKSAR to complete on our own legislation for safeguarding national security in the foreseeable future for various reasons, the HKSAR Government fully supports the National People’s Congress’s (NPC’s) deliberation at the national level of the Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the HKSAR to Safeguard National Security (the Decision). The Decision is not only legal and constitutional, but also urgent and necessary.
Rights and freedoms unaffected “One Country, Two Systems” reinforced
The Decision targets four types of acts or activities, namely acts of secession, subverting state power and organising and carrying out terrorist activities, as well as activities interfering with the HKSAR’s internal affairs by foreign or external forces. The vast majority of Hong Kong citizens are law-abiding and will not be affected by the Decision at all as they will not participate in acts or activities that undermine national security. The Decision aims at safeguarding the lives, properties, freedoms and rights of the general public through sanctioning a handful of people who seriously undermine national security by advocating “Hong Kong Independence” and resorting to violence. At the moment, a lot of inaccurate messages of different nature, unreasonable allegations and misleading remarks causing panic are circulated within the community. I urge the people of Hong Kong to make rational analyses, distinguish right from wrong and establish a correct understanding of the Decision.
I must stress that the Decision will not in the least undermine “One Country, Two Systems”. The HKSAR will continue to have “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy as it has been over the past 23 years. The Decision will in no way affect the HKSAR’s executive, legislative and independent judicial powers, including that of final adjudication, or the legitimate rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong people. Our citizens can continue to enjoy freedoms of speech, the press, assembly, demonstration, procession, etc., and engage in international and academic exchanges as well as free enterprise. So long as citizens and foreign investors act lawfully without getting involved in any of the four categories of acts or activities stated under the Decision, there is actually nothing to worry about.
Following a spate of violent confrontations in the past year, Hong Kong is now at a crossroads. An unequivocal choice must be made. Either we bring order out of chaos and get back on track as soon as possible so that people can work and live in peace and a stable business and investment environment can be restored for a prosperous way forward, or we let violent radicals wantonly destroy social peace and stability in the name of democracy, driving Hong Kong to a dead end. The answer is simple and clear. Social turmoil is the true enemy of social well-being and investors’ interests. There will surely be public consensus on the right path to be chosen for Hong Kong.
After the passage of the Decision, the HKSAR Government will render full co-operation to complete the legislation as soon as possible with a view to discharging its responsibility of safeguarding national security and ensuring the long-term prosperity, stability and peace of Hong Kong under “One Country, Two Systems”.
On a separate note, the National Anthem Bill (the Bill) will be submitted to the Legislative Council (LegCo) for resumption of the Second Reading debate on Wednesday (May 27).
Rationale behind the National Anthem Law
The national anthem is the symbol and sign of a nation. The Bill aims to implement the Law of the People’s Republic of China on National Anthem (National Anthem Law) in Hong Kong by local legislation. Under the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”, the HKSAR Government has the constitutional responsibility to implement the National Anthem Law as soon as possible in order to preserve the dignity of and promote respect for the national anthem. In fact, every one of us should be both obliged and inclined to preserve the dignity of our country and nationality.
Obligation to respect the national anthem
National anthem, national flag and national emblem are all signs and symbols of a country which should be respected by each of its citizens. In accordance with the Bill, only public and intentional insulting behaviour in relation to the national anthem will be penalised. In fact, there is no need for members of the public to worry about inadvertently contravening the law if they do not insult the national anthem and impair its dignity as the symbol and sign of the People’s Republic of China.
After lengthy consultation and a long period of gestation, LegCo will finally resume its Second Reading debate on the Bill this Wednesday (May 27), which may be considered the final stage of its scrutiny. It should be noted that the legislative exercise began in early 2018 and, after a year spent discussing, gathering of public views and drafting of the legislation, the Bill was gazetted in January 2019 and henceforth introduced into the LegCo for First and Second Readings. The Bills Committee completed scrutiny of the Bill after more than 50 hours of in depth discussion in a total of 17 meetings. In June 2019, the House Committee raised no objection to the Government’s plan to resume the Second Reading debate in the current Legislative session.
From a global perspective, legislation prohibiting any insult of the national anthem can be found in many countries. I hope that the Bill can be passed in the LegCo in the soonest possible time for early fulfillment of the HKSAR’s constitutional responsibility to preserve the dignity of the national anthem.