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HK residents hail national security law

By GANG WEN | | Updated: 2020-06-23 01:00
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Italian-born writer says legislation aims to stop foreign interference

Hong Kong residents and legal experts believe the national security law will serve as an opportunity for the city to return to a peaceful life and deter forces trying to create disorder, as more details of the law were unveiled following a meeting of China's top legislature.

Laura Ruggeri, an Italian-born writer and scholar who has been living in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for over two decades, said the 23-year-long absence of a security law in the SAR has damaged the city.

Hong Kong experienced months of protest violence triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill last June. On many occasions, US and British national flags were seen during those events. Some Hong Kong activists went to the United States and met with US officials to lobby for economic sanctions on Hong Kong in the hope that the SAR government would be coerced to compromise.

"I don't understand the uproar, given that most countries have a national security law. It's designed to protect the country and its citizens from foreign forces and collusion," said the former professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The draft law, which includes 66 articles in six chapters, criminalizes secession, subversion of State power, terrorist activities and collusion with external forces. The draft law also requires the establishment of a local national security commission headed by the chief executive and a security agency by the central government.

Ruggeri said the police can finally be equipped to take on major crimes that were previously not within their remit, with the aid of intelligence and expertise provided by Beijing.

Alan Leung, a food trade businessman in Hong Kong, said the law will return order and rule of law to Hong Kong after a year of destructive violence verging on terrorism.

His business plunged 30 percent in the past year amid an economic downturn partly attributed to the violence, but worse still is the fear that prevents him from even bringing his child out onto the streets.

Kacee Ting Wong, a barrister and a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said the vast majority of Hong Kong residents have had enough of violent protests, which may have been fueled by foreign interference, and the law comes as a powerful deterrent.

Willy Fu Kin-chi, a law professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, said law will not restrict people's exchanges with foreign entities in Hong Kong, unless the person meets with a foreign organization with criminal motives and takes part in criminal actions that endanger national security.

The draft national security law clearly stipulates that freedom of speech remains unaffected. For example, Hong Kong people still have the right to criticize the government's handling of social issues, he said.

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