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Deputies to deliberate on measures to boost HK security

By ZHANG YANGFEI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-05-23 06:55
Wang Chen, vice-chairman of the country's top legislature, reports on a draft of its decision on strengthening Hong Kong's legal system and enforcement mechanisms on national security, and the draft civil code in Beijing on Friday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Efforts must be made at the State level to establish and improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for Hong Kong to safeguard national security and change its long-term "defenseless" status in the field of national security, Wang Chen, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said on Friday while explaining a draft decision to the third session of the 13th NPC.

Such efforts will advance institution building to safeguard national security in accordance with China's Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, strengthen the work of safeguarding national security and ensure the steady and enduring growth of the cause of "one country, two systems", Wang said.

China's top legislature will deliberate on the draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for Hong Kong to safeguard national security during its annual session this year.

If the decision is approved, the NPC Standing Committee will formulate related laws as soon as possible to solve Hong Kong's problems in maintaining national security, strengthen the construction of specialized and law enforcement agencies and ensure the law will be effectively implemented in Hong Kong, Wang said.

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, which have achieved unprecedented success in Hong Kong, he said.

But the increasing national security risks in Hong Kong have become a prominent problem, especially the unrest triggered by the extradition bill last June, which has seen separatists deface the national flag and emblem, vandalize public facilities and property, attack the police and central government agencies and paralyze the normal operation of the Legislative Council, he said, adding that some foreign forces have also blatantly intervened in Hong Kong affairs.

These acts have seriously challenged the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle, harmed the rule of law, and threatened national sovereignty, security and development interests, Wang said.

Law-based and forceful measures must be taken to prevent, stop and punish such activities, he said.

Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong SAR shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition or subversion against the Central People's Government, or the theft of State secrets, and prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the region and establishing ties with local political organizations or bodies.

More than 20 years after Hong Kong's return to China, however, related laws are yet to materialize due to sabotage and obstruction by those trying to cause trouble in Hong Kong and China at large, as well as external hostile forces, Wang said.

Wang elaborated several basic principles to stick to: firmly safeguarding national security; upholding and improving "one country, two systems"; adhering to governing Hong Kong in accordance with the law; resolutely opposing external interference; and substantially safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong people.

Also on Friday, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said in a statement that the NPC's review of the draft is "very timely, necessary and important".

It will help lay a solid foundation for the "one country, two systems" principle, considering the increasing struggles faced by the Hong Kong SAR government in maintaining security in recent years, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the new laws will only target those activities that attempt to split the country, subvert State power, organize terrorist attacks and interfere with Hong Kong's internal affairs in league with foreign forces.

The new laws will not affect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents, including freedom of demonstration and assembly, as well as freedom of speech, but will enable them to better exercise those rights in a safe environment.

The spokesperson reassured that the "one country, two systems" principle, the economic system implemented in Hong Kong, the high degree of autonomy and the local legal system will not be changed and the interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong will continue to be protected.

Since the unrest triggered by the extradition bill last June, separatist forces have blatantly clamored for "Hong Kong independence" with the support of foreign and "Taiwan independence" forces and committed violent crimes of a terrorist nature, the spokesperson said, adding that these acts seriously challenge the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle and endanger national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.

As an administrative region under the central government, Hong Kong has the constitutional responsibility to prevent and punish any acts that endanger national security. However, Hong Kong failed to advance the long-dormant national security bill, placing the region in a "defenseless" state that is rare to see in the world and revealing many loopholes in work related to institutional issues and the allocation of power, the spokesperson said

In light of these circumstances, the NPC, as the highest organ of State power, has the right granted by the Constitution to make provisions on establishing and improving Hong Kong's legal system and to authorize the NPC Standing Committee to draft the law, the spokesperson said, adding that this is an "inevitable, justified and natural choice".

The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong SAR said on Friday that the ongoing national legislative session's deliberations on Hong Kong are "an imperative move" to fix the legal loopholes in Hong Kong concerning national security.

A spokesperson for the office said in a statement that the deliberations are fundamental to safeguarding the "one country, two systems" principle.

The move fully reflects the central government's strong will and firm determination to safeguard national security and demonstrates the resolute defense of and utmost care for the overall interests of Hong Kong and the fundamental well-being of Hong Kong compatriots, the spokesperson said.

The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong also released a statement. It said that although Hong Kong has been returned to the motherland for 23 years, some forces ignored that fact and attempted to consider Hong Kong an independent or half-independent political entity. They distorted the "one country, two systems" principle, the aims and contents of the Basic Law and obstructed legislation in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law in every possible way.

The office said it expected the international community to stick to the principles of noninterference in internal affairs, mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, to support "one country, two systems" in real action, respect and support the efforts that China has made to maintain national security in Hong Kong according to the law, and not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and the internal affairs of China in any way.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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