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      xi's moments
      Home | Op-Ed Contributors

      New law to plug HK's national security loopholes

      By Li Xiaobing | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-18 07:42

      The United Front Supporting National Security Legislation launches on Monday an online petition opposing external interference in Hong Kong's internal affairs and supporting national security legislation for the city. China Daily

      The National People's Congress, China's top legislature, has authorized its Standing Committee to enact national security legislation for Hong Kong to plug the national security loopholes in the special administrative region. The new law will be incorporated into Annex III of the Basic Law of Hong Kong so it can be implemented in the SAR.

      The decision is a significant move to plug the national security loopholes in Hong Kong that have been exposed in recent years in the practice of "one country, two systems".

      The national security legislation will provide the legal basis to prevent, curb and punish those elements that compromise China's sovereignty over the SAR and threaten national security. It will also safeguard the SAR's development interests, help maintain its long-term prosperity and stability, and protect the legal rights and interests of the city's residents.

      Article 23 of the Basic Law of the SAR stipulates that Hong Kong "shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People's Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies". But in the 23 years since its return to China, the SAR has failed to promulgate a national security law.

      Apart from the SAR failure to enact such a law, some existing laws and regulations to safeguard national security also seem to be lying "dormant" for a long time. As a result of these serious legal loopholes, Hong Kong has failed to meet the requirements of "one country, two systems" with regard to national security.

      In recent years, violence and acts of terrorism have posed a major national security risk in "Asia's world city". The illegal "Occupy Central" movement in 2014, riots in Mong Kok during Spring Festival in 2016 and the mayhem committed by the violent demonstrators since the middle of last year, due to the opposition camp's hostility toward the now withdrawn amendment to the SAR's extradition law, have exposed Hong Kong's administrative and statutory drawbacks.

      In particular, the fact that some radicals openly advocated "Hong Kong independence" during last year's riots made the promulgation of national security legislation extremely necessary. The wanton violence, vandalism and looting, and indiscriminate attacks on police officers and innocent people, including setting a resident on fire, have threatened the rule of law in Hong Kong, for which it was known across the world, and derailed the city's economic development.

      In other words, the radicals have seriously challenged the bottom line of "one country, two systems" and China's sovereignty.

      Safeguarding national security is vital to a country's territorial integrity and economic and social development. Any acts of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central government should invite severe punishment according to law.

      The NPC decision on national security legislation demonstrates that the central government is committed to plugging the national security loopholes in Hong Kong to safeguard national security at all costs.

      The NPC decision also shows the central authorities require the SAR to establish an implementation mechanism for the new legislation to safeguard national security.

      And contrary to what some in Hong Kong and Western countries claim, national security legislation will not invalidate Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law. Instead, it will strengthen Article 23 and improve governance in the SAR.

      The new law will not only better safeguard national security in Hong Kong but also strengthen "one country, two systems", and ensure the continued development and prosperity of the SAR and its residents.

      The author is a Hong Kong and Taiwan affairs expert at Nankai University, Tianjin.

      The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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