All-out efforts to ensure full implementation of national security legislation
5 July 2020
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government welcomes the implementation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR (the National Security Law), which represents a historic milestone in the improvement of Hong Kong's institutional system to safeguard the country's sovereignty, territorial integrity and security. By ensuring the continued success of "One Country, Two Systems", preserving Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability as well as safeguarding the rights and freedoms legitimately enjoyed by citizens, the National Security Law lays a solid foundation for Hong Kong to better integrate into the country's development. Heralding a new dawn for Hong Kong, this legislation enables us to step out of the political gloom and get back on the right track after all the adversities we have been through.
By enacting the National Security Law for Hong Kong at the state level, the Central Authorities have made an essential and timely decision to safeguard national security and help Hong Kong restore stability as soon as possible.
Upholding the principle of "One Country, Two Systems"
The policy of "One Country, Two Systems" is the best institutional arrangement to maintain the long-term stability of Hong Kong. Embodying a high degree of flexibility, it takes into full account Hong Kong's history and realities while championing the principle of realising national unity and safeguarding national sovereignty.
The Central Authorities unswervingly uphold the principle of "One Country, Two Systems" and it is important that the Hong Kong community has a correct perception of the relationship between "one country" and "two systems". "One country" is the foundation of "two systems", and this foundation will be seriously shaken if territorial integrity is compromised and national security is at risk. On the contrary, the stronger the bottom line of national security, the greater the room for development under "One Country, Two Systems".
Protecting the basic rights and freedoms of Hong Kong citizens
The National Security Law seeks to impose shackles on only four types of acts and activities that seriously endanger national security. It only targets an extremely small minority of offenders without adversely affecting the basic rights and freedoms legitimately enjoyed by Hong Kong citizens. When exercising these rights, law-abiding and peace-loving citizens or journalists need not worry as long as they do not commit the offences of secession, subversion of state power, organisation of and carrying out terrorist activities and collusion with foreign or external forces that endanger national security as defined under the law.
The National Security Law also clearly stipulates that the HKSAR shall protect Hong Kong people's rights and freedoms under the Basic Law as well as the relevant 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, including the freedoms of speech, of the press, of publication, of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration. It must be emphasised that the legitimate rights of Hong Kong citizens to exercise their freedom of speech, such as criticising government policies or officials, will not be compromised.
Safeguarding judicial independence
The independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law, which form the cornerstones of the Hong Kong community, are guaranteed under the Basic Law. It remains the mission and the constitutional duty of the HKSAR Judiciary to maintain and protect them. The National Security Law will not affect the judicial independence and the rule of law in Hong Kong, and the Department of Justice will continue to be free from interference in its criminal prosecution work. Besides, the following principles of the rule of law are fully realised under the National Security Law:
- Conviction and sentencing of crimes should be well defined in the law: a person who commits an act which constitutes an offence under the law shall be convicted and punished in accordance with the law. No one shall be convicted and punished for an act which does not constitute an offence under the law.
- Presumption of innocence: a person is presumed innocent until convicted by a judicial body.
- Protection against double jeopardy: no one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he or she has already been finally convicted or acquitted in judicial proceedings.
- Right to a fair trial: the right to defend himself or herself and other rights in judicial proceedings that a criminal suspect, defendant and other parties in judicial proceedings are entitled to under the law shall be protected.
- Non-retrospectivity: the National Security Law applies only to acts after its commencement.
The HKSAR Government will do its utmost and remain steadfast in its duties to fulfil the primary responsibility of implementing the National Security Law in Hong Kong. A Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR chaired by the Chief Executive has been established accordingly to take up national security affairs and bear the major responsibility for safeguarding national security. As a member of the Committee, which is under the supervision of and accountable to the Central People's Government, I will do my utmost to support its work.
It is incumbent upon all civil servants, as the backbone of the HKSAR Government, to perform their functions in their respective positions, fully cooperate with the HKSAR Government in discharging its duty to safeguard national security, and unwaveringly support the governance of the Chief Executive and the HKSAR Government.
I am well aware of the divergence of views and perceptions amongst the community about the legislation. The HKSAR Government will strive to facilitate a proper understanding of the object and content of the National Security Law through its public education, explanation and promotion efforts in order to dispel concerns, clarify the air and dismiss rumours.
On the coming Tuesday (July 7), principal officials of the Government will attend the joint meeting of the Legislative Council Panels on Security, Constitutional Affairs and Administration of Justice and Legal Services to give a detailed account of the content of the National Security Law and answer questions about it. After the promulgation of the National Security Law, some Western politicians have continued to use this as a pretext for actions against our country and our city, and threatened to impose the so-called "sanctions" on us. It was a blatant interference in the internal affairs of China and the internal matters of Hong Kong as well. Nevertheless, over 50 countries recently made a joint assertion at the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to welcome the passage of the National Security Law, and urged the countries concerned to immediately cease interfering in China's internal affairs by using Hong Kong issues. In the week ahead, I will meet with each of the consuls-general and foreign chambers of commerce in Hong Kong to explain the National Security Law to dispel any misconceptions or misunderstandings they might have.
On July 1, some protestors, while disregarding the notice of objection issued by the Police, conducted unlawful assemblies, committed violent and illegal acts, and even seriously injured police officers. What they did was absolutely infuriating. Besides, slogans like "Hong Kong independence" were seen and heard during these illegal and violent activities. These people who possessed and waved flags and placards containing or chanted such slogans were suspected of inciting and abetting others to commit secession, which constituted a breach of the National Security Law and publicly challenged the bottom line of the Central and HKSAR Governments. Members of the public should not defy the law and should be mindful that the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" nowadays connotes "Hong Kong independence", or separating the HKSAR from the People's Republic of China, altering the legal status of the HKSAR, or subverting state power. In strictly enforcing the National Security Law and the laws of Hong Kong to restore social order and peace, the Police have the full support from the HKSAR Government.
Under the current environment where the global political and economic landscape is complex and volatile, educating our next generation so that they have correct national and historical perspectives and sentiments as well as right values is of paramount importance. As Hong Kong is a society that upholds the rule of law, we should also step up the promotion of good citizenship by fostering a law-abiding culture in the community. Meanwhile, enhancing the education and awareness of national security of our citizens, especially young people, will help pool our strengths for safeguarding national security.
The National Security Law is the safeguard of Hong Kong's future. As long as we put aside our differences, show mutual tolerance and respect the rule of law, I believe that we will have a broader prospect and a bright future ahead of us.