From long-term “security vacuum” to long-term stability
31 May 2020
Will you engage in acts or activities to split the country, subvert state power, organise and carry out terrorist activities, as well as activities of foreign and external forces interfering in the affairs of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)? For the vast majority of Hong Kong citizens and foreign investors, the answer to this question is of course a resounding “no”, which speaks for the fact that there is nothing to worry about the legislation on national security.
National security is the very foundation for a country to survive and thrive. It is the constitutional responsibility of the HKSAR, as an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests. Legislating at the state level will preserve the “one country, two systems” principle and ensure Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability by preventing, ceasing and punishing the acts and activities of an extremely small minority of criminals who endanger national security. This will not affect the rights and freedoms legitimately enjoyed by Hong Kong citizens, but rather serve the common interests of the country, the city and the international community.
I wish to emphasise that the passage of the decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security (the Decision) by the National People’s Congress (NPC) last week will effectively protect the overwhelming majority of law-abiding and peace-loving Hong Kong citizens and ensure that all the freedoms and rights enjoyed by us will remain intact. The national security law will further strengthen “one country, two systems”, thereby adequately safeguarding the core values and systems much treasured by Hong Kong people, including freedoms of speech, the press, information, assembly, protest and procession, movement, trade and capital flow.
National security concerns not only the security and interests of 7.5 million Hong Kong people, but also those of 1.4 billion Chinese nationals. Legislating for national security is naturally a matter within the purview of the Central Authorities. The deliberation and passage of the Decision by the NPC, the highest organ of state power of the PRC, is beyond dispute and epitomises the country’s care, concern and support for the HKSAR.
The people of a country are always the beneficiaries of its national security, and Hong Kong citizens are no exception. Against a backdrop of rising complexity and volatility of the international landscape, Hong Kong, being a special administrative region, is facing blatant domestic challenges brought upon the authority of the Central and HKSAR Governments by organisations advocating “Hong Kong independence” and “self-determination”, while having to resist intensifying external interference in Hong Kong’s affairs. Worse still, our existing legal system and enforcement mechanisms to safeguard national security, which merely exist in name, are inadequate and have made Hong Kong a gaping hole in national security.
A persistent “security vacuum” in Hong Kong will have far-reaching impact not only on the security, prosperity and stability of the city, but also on the overall security of the country. Legislating on national security will contain such risks at the state level and, at the same time, ensure the long-term security of Hong Kong.
Since the NPC’s deliberation of the national security legislation, some locals with ulterior motives have been spreading rumours, inciting violence and creating panics by slandering the legislation for negating “one country, two systems” and depriving Hong Kong of its highly autonomous status. Such allegations are sheer nonsense.
Meanwhile, some foreign politicians have been unleashing high-profile attacks by accusing that national security legislation is a violation of the Basic Law as well as the principles of “one country, two systems” and a high degree of autonomy, which undermines the human rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong people. They even threaten to impose sanctions on China and Hong Kong in a bid to change their policies towards Hong Kong.
We ought to understand that these malicious remarks, criticisms and measures of local and foreign politicians are politically driven with an obvious motivation to bash China. The HKSAR Government must expressly and strongly oppose foreign governments interfering in any form in Hong Kong’s internal affairs and sternly refute their shockingly untrue and biased remarks about Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.
No country would allow other people or countries to carry out acts or activities that endanger national security on its territory. Some countries uphold their own national security while using every means to obstruct China from doing the same. Such hypocrisy and double standards are utterly abhorrent.
It is also against international law and practice for using unilateral sanctions as a threat to interfere in the policies of other countries or regions. Any sanctions against Hong Kong are a double-edged sword that harms both oneself and others. As a matter of fact, co-operation will benefit both places while confrontation serves the interests of neither.
The United States (US) has been enjoying a trade surplus with Hong Kong over the years, which has been the largest among its global trading partners. In 2019, total trade in goods between Hong Kong and the US stood at HK$517 billion (accounting for 6.2% of our total trade in goods), whereas our domestic exports to the US was a modest HK$3.7 billion. According to US figures, the US enjoyed a trade surplus of over HK$200 billion with Hong Kong in 2019. Any sanctions on sectors like service and investment will deal a hard blow to the 1 300 US corporations based in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong and our Motherland are closely linked with a shared future. We have the ability, determination and confidence to resist unreasonable threats and are not afraid of foreign sanctions and intimidation.
As a well-established international financial and commercial centre, Hong Kong has a robust financial system and regulatory regime underpinned by a strong fiscal reserve. The city possesses unparalleled strengths including rule of law, judicial independence, free and open trade policy and level playing field, low tax rates, world-class shipping infrastructure, free port status, superior geographical location, quality and flexible workforce and unique advantages brought about by the continuous opening up of the Mainland economy. As long as we are unyielding, level-headed and united, we will be able to ride out storm and move on.
The HKSAR Government will fully co-operate with the Standing Committee of the NPC to complete the relevant legislative work as soon as possible and will proactively reflect Hong Kong’s specific situation.
The HKSAR Government has been making every effort to explain the legislation to the public over the past week. The Chief Executive and a number of principal officials including myself took part in the territory-wide signature campaign in support of the national security legislation. We have made clear to the public that we stand firm on the matter and called for a fuller understanding of the Decision as well as stern support for its passage by the NPC. The HKSAR Government will continue its strenuous effort to explain the objective and importance of the legislation in both local and overseas communities.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law, the HKSAR Government launched the online Exhibition of the 30th Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Basic Law of the HKSAR of the PRC (website: https://bl30a-exhibition.org/) yesterday. Presented in the form of a time tunnel, the exhibition introduces the historical background of the Basic Law, its drafting, promulgation and successful implementation in Hong Kong. A comprehensive and accurate perception of the Basic Law is what we need to deepen our understanding of the concept and implementation of “one country, two systems”. And it is a time to reflect on the significance of safeguarding national security in maintaining the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.