Security threats anything but remote
Updated: 2018-04-17 06:38
The chief executive, along with senior central government and local officials and political heavyweights, attended the first National Security Education Day symposium in Hong Kong on Sunday, organized by two local think tanks.
Traditionally Hong Kong residents have attached little importance to the issue of national security. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor pinpointed the reason for this relative apathy in her speech at the symposium - Hong Kong people have always thought "national security" concerns only the military aspect. As there is a People's Liberation Army garrison in the special administrative region, what else could the local populace do to enhance national security? Nothing is further from the truth.
Most of the offensive activities conducted between countries nowadays are not outright warfare but covert operations. Hong Kong has long been called the "Casablanca of the East" - an international spy center in Asia. Taking advantage of its free-wheeling entrepot status, many foreign forces have used Hong Kong as a platform for collecting intelligence, staging coup d'etats overseas and even plotting international terrorism. These activities actually go on every day without the knowledge of the average citizens, that is, not until something goes wrong, as with the suspected link of certain South Asian elements in the city to serious terrorist attacks thousands of miles away in India.
One kind of activity would particularly irritate the central government, and that is activities backed by hostile, anti-China forces that aim at splitting up the country. National security and territorial integrity is a bottom line that must be defended at whatever cost and not be crossed under whatever excuse.
China is now strong enough to protect itself from outright military attacks but it is clandestine attempts to drive a wedge between ethnic or social groups in the country that the central authorities are most alert to. In Hong Kong such groups have been taking advantage of the lack of national security law here to instigate sit-ins and riots and corrupt young people's minds by spreading sophistry on "Hong Kong independence" and "self-determinism".
And there is no lack of local support to such destructive causes. The recent separatist remarks by Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the main engineer of the illegal "Occupy Central" protests in 2014, made at a seminar held in Taipei and attended by separatists from different parts of China, are a perfect example of what could happen if we are not prepared, including legally, to deal with this kind of treacherous action.
Also speaking at the Sunday symposium, Wang Zhimin, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, rightly emphasized that safeguarding national security is the shared responsibility of Hong Kong people.
The nickname "Casablanca of the East" may sound romantic but being called that is actually a wake-up call for the city to enact national security legislation in line with Article 23 of the Basic Law.
(HK Edition 04/17/2018 page11)