NPC adopts law on safe­guard­ing na­tional se­cu­rity in HK

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YANGFEI zhangyangf­ei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s top leg­isla­tive body on Tues­day unan­i­mously passed the na­tional se­cu­rity law for Hong Kong.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping signed a pres­i­den­tial or­der to pro­mul­gate the law, which takes ef­fect im­me­di­ately.

The 163 mem­bers of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress be­gan the se­cond de­lib­er­a­tion of the bill dur­ing its 20th ses­sion in Bei­jing from Sun­day to Tues­day and adopted the Law of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China on Safe­guard­ing Na­tional Se­cu­rity in the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion.

The meet­ing, which closed on Tues­day af­ter­noon, also adopted a de­ci­sion to add the law to An­nex III of the HKSAR Ba­sic Law.

The law clearly de­fines the du­ties and gov­ern­ment bod­ies of the HKSAR for safe­guard­ing na­tional se­cu­rity, the four cat­e­gories of of­fenses — se­ces­sion, sub­ver­sion, ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties and col­lu­sion with a foreign coun­try or ex­ter­nal el­e­ments to en­dan­ger na­tional se­cu­rity — and their cor­re­spond­ing penal­ties.

Li Zhan­shu, chair­man of the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, presided over the clos­ing meet­ing and said the unan­i­mous pass­ing of the law re­flected the com­mon will of the Chi­nese peo­ple, in­clud­ing Hong Kong com­pa­tri­ots.

He said the law fully con­sid­ers the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two sys­tems and the spe­cific sit­u­a­tion of Hong Kong.

The Foreign Min­istry warned Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day of coun­ter­mea­sures against US sanc­tions to pro­tect China’s na­tional in­ter­ests.

Foreign Min­istry spokesman Zhao Li­jian said China’s re­solve to ad­vance the leg­is­la­tion for the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion won’t be de­terred by sanc­tions.

The United States be­gan elim­i­nat­ing Hong Kong’s spe­cial trade sta­tus un­der the US law, halt­ing de­fense ex­ports and re­strict­ing the city’s ac­cess to high tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts.

The na­tional se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion is purely a do­mes­tic is­sue for China, in which no other coun­try has a right to in­ter­fere, Zhao said, adding that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment is firmly de­ter­mined to safe­guard China’s sovereignt­y, se­cu­rity and devel­op­ment.

Also on Tues­day, Hong Kong Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet­ngor said the SAR won’t be in­tim­i­dated by US sanc­tions.

She said the SAR would co­op­er­ate with any coun­ter­mea­sures deemed nec­es­sary by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

Lam said the ef­fects of the US sanc­tions, though still un­der eval­u­a­tion, would be few be­cause al­ter­na­tives can be found for targeted tech­nolo­gies.

The city has lit­tle man­u­fac­tur­ing, but that doesn’t mean that Hong Kong can’t buy such items. The sanc­tions only make pur­chases more in­con­ve­nient, she added.

She also stressed that the US has had a trade sur­plus as high as $30 bil­lion ev­ery year with Hong Kong, the high­est among its trade part­ners.

Lam’s re­marks were sup­ported by lead­ing lo­cal busi­ness fig­ures, a lo­cal sci­en­tist and a US fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant who once lived in Hong Kong.

Louis Chan, as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal econ­o­mist on the Global Re­search Team of the Hong Kong Trade Devel­op­ment Coun­cil, said the sanc­tions will have a lim­ited im­pact on the city as they do not af­fect prod­ucts like daily ne­ces­si­ties that it im­ports.

Chan said only 1 per­cent of the prod­ucts im­ported from the US re­quired ex­port li­censes last year and only part of them were ex­empted from ex­port li­censes un­der the spe­cial trade sta­tus ar­range­ment. Thus, any sanc­tions im­posed would im­pact only 1 per­cent of the prod­ucts, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ray­mond Young Lap-moon, CEO of the Chi­nese Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong, the city’s busi­nesses have pre­pared for sanc­tions. No mem­ber of the as­so­ci­a­tion has com­plained about the prospect of sanc­tions, he added.

Wong Kam-fai, as­so­ci­ate dean of the Fac­ulty of En­gi­neer­ing at the Chi­nese Univer­sity of Hong Kong, said sanc­tions are ex­pected to have lit­tle im­pact on the city’s sci­en­tific co­op­er­a­tion with the US as the two sides have es­tab­lished mu­tual trust based on many years of col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Cyrus Janssen, a US fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant who lived in Hong Kong from 2014 to 2017, said the sanc­tions would also hurt US com­pa­nies in

Hong Kong and at home.

“Iron­i­cally, these are who the US claims they want to pro­tect,” he said.

Janssen said the US should ac­cept the fact that it is in no po­si­tion to de­ter­mine Hong Kong’s high de­gree of au­ton­omy as Hong Kong be­longs to China.

He said the US should stop play­ing a zero-sum game, re­spect China’s in­ter­nal af­fairs and con­cen­trate more on its own do­mes­tic prob­lems.

Bernard Chan Pak-li, un­der­sec­re­tary for com­merce and eco­nomic devel­op­ment of Hong Kong, said US en­ter­prises in Hong Kong will bear the brunt of US re­stric­tions.

More than 1,300 US com­pa­nies have busi­ness op­er­a­tions in Hong Kong, ac­cord­ing to the US State Depart­ment.

Chan warned that any sanc­tions aimed at Hong Kong’s fi­nan­cial sys­tem will back­fire, hurt­ing global in­vestors us­ing US dol­lars for trans­ac­tions or hold­ing US as­sets, as the city is the world’s third-largest foreign ex­change cen­ter for the US dol­lar.

AN­THONY WAL­LACE / AFP

Hong Kong res­i­dents raise a toast dur­ing a rally on Tues­day to cel­e­brate the ap­proval of the na­tional se­cu­rity law for Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion and the 23rd an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of the SAR.

CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY

Hong Kong Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor speaks at a news con­fer­ence at HKSAR Gov­ern­ment Head­quar­ters in the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion on Tues­day.

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