Na­tional se­cu­rity must be viewed from per­spec­tive of en­tire na­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENTHK - The views do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect those of China Daily.

De­bate about the na­tional se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion for Hong Kong heated up as de­tails of the draft law be­came known. Now that the law has been passed, some are still ar­gu­ing against it. Their ar­gu­ments, what­ever they may be, have one thing in com­mon: They are all made from the per­spec­tive of Hong Kong with­out con­sid­er­a­tion for the na­tion.

It is not sur­pris­ing that these de­trac­tors, who view the new law solely through this nar­row lense, would read­ily find fault with it, par­tic­u­larly some of its ar­range­ments. But the leg­isla­tive in­tent of the law is to safe­guard na­tional se­cu­rity, which is es­sen­tially a mat­ter of the State. More con­tro­ver­sies would arise, and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new law could be hin­dered, if some con­tinue to view the na­tional se­cu­rity is­sue only from the per­spec­tive of Hong Kong. To avoid such an un­de­sir­able sce­nario, we must view it from mul­ti­ple perspectiv­es, or be­yond the con­text of Hong Kong.

First of all, we must see the “big pic­ture”. It es­sen­tially refers to the in­tri­cate global po­lit­i­cal land­scape, wherein Hong Kong’s loop­hole in na­tional se­cu­rity is be­ing ex­ploited by some for­eign gov­ern­ments and politi­cians to con­tain China’s developmen­t. If the city fails to en­act a na­tional se­cu­rity law in a timely man­ner, it will be­come a “Hong Kong card” that the for­eign pow­ers read­ily use against Bei­jing. There­fore, spe­cific pro­vi­sions of the law must be suf­fi­ciently strong to deter acts en­dan­ger­ing na­tional se­cu­rity and nip sep­a­ratism in the bud.

To en­sure a suf­fi­cient de­ter­rent ef­fect, in ad­di­tion to the penal­ties stip­u­lated in the law, emphasis must be placed on im­ple­men­ta­tion and en­force­ment, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing the im­por­tant role of judges. Ac­cord­ingly, the chief ex­ec­u­tive is em­pow­ered to des­ig­nate a group of judges who are qual­i­fied to han­dle cases re­lated to na­tional se­cu­rity. This is cru­cial to achiev­ing the very pur­pose of the new na­tional se­cu­rity law.

Apart from see­ing the “big pic­ture”, we must view the na­tional se­cu­rity is­sue from the per­spec­tive of the State. Since the law em­pha­sizes the role of the cen­tral au­thor­i­ties in safe­guard­ing na­tional se­cu­rity in the Hong Kong SAR, some de­trac­tors claim that Bei­jing is un­der­min­ing Hong Kong’s au­ton­omy, or com­pro­mis­ing “one coun­try, two sys­tems”. Such ar­gu­ments re­veal a fun­da­men­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing of the po­lit­i­cal frame­work. The ba­sic prin­ci­ple of this frame­work is: “One coun­try” pre­cedes “two sys­tems”. On is­sues of na­tional se­cu­rity, ex­er­cis­ing State power is of para­mount im­por­tance.

Is­sues re­lat­ing to na­tional se­cu­rity are not sup­posed to be han­dled by lo­cal gov­ern­ments. If there is an in­de­pen­dence move­ment emerg­ing in Hong Kong, this for sure can­not be han­dled by Hong Kong it­self. Such prac­tice holds true ev­ery­where.

Take the Cata­lan in­de­pen­dence move­ment in Spain as an ex­am­ple. It was the cen­tral govern­ment of Spain that took it upon it­self to tackle this na­tional cri­sis. The Se­nate in Madrid en­dorsed Spanish Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy’s pro­posal to re­move Cat­alo­nia’s au­ton­omy by in­vok­ing Ar­ti­cle 155 of the Spanish Con­sti­tu­tion. The cri­sis was ul­ti­mately re­solved after the Cata­lan govern­ment was dis­solved and the cen­tral govern­ment took over the gover­nance of Cat­alo­nia. Po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in­volved in the Cata­lan in­de­pen­dence move­ment were tried by the Supreme Court of Spain in Madrid, the coun­try’s cap­i­tal.

Judg­ing from the Cata­lan case and other sim­i­lar in­ter­na­tional events, we know that the cen­tral govern­ment rep­re­sent­ing the “state” plays an es­sen­tial role in han­dling na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues in lo­cal­i­ties, in­clud­ing par­tially au­tonomous re­gions. If we view na­tional se­cu­rity

Paul Ye­ung

The au­thor is se­nior re­search officer of the One Coun­try Two Sys­tems Re­search In­sti­tute. For now, Hong Kong is fac­ing sanc­tions by US-led Western coun­tries. To over­come such threats, we must forgo the nar­row-minded, Hong Kong-cen­tered per­spec­tive and adopt the na­tional per­spec­tive.

is­sues from this per­spec­tive, it is easy to un­der­stand why the cen­tral govern­ment will set up a na­tional se­cu­rity agency in Hong Kong, which is tasked with su­per­vis­ing, guid­ing, fa­cil­i­tat­ing and sup­port­ing the HKSAR govern­ment to ful­fill its re­spon­si­bil­ity of safe­guard­ing na­tional se­cu­rity. The agency, to­gether with other rel­e­vant State or­gans, will also ex­er­cise ju­ris­dic­tion on a small num­ber of crim­i­nal cases in­volv­ing acts that threaten na­tional se­cu­rity.

To help us to have an ap­pro­pri­ate view on the na­tional se­cu­rity law, we must also have a vi­sion of the long-term ef­fect of the law. Some con­cerns held that the pro­mul­ga­tion of the na­tional se­cu­rity law would worsen the en­vi­ron­ment for busi­ness and in­vest­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, and even for res­i­dents’ lives. Such con­cerns are un­der­stand­able since the law is a new thing for Hong Kong peo­ple, most of whom still do not have suf­fi­cient knowl­edge of it. How­ever, it can be ex­pected that peo­ple will feel re­as­sured when they have a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of the law’s ju­ris­dic­tion, scope of ap­pli­ca­tion and le­gal pro­ce­dures.

The prac­tice in Sin­ga­pore pro­vides Hong Kong with a glimpse into the fu­ture. The coun­try’s strong se­cu­rity law has not dragged down its econ­omy or hin­dered so­cial developmen­t in the long run be­cause both Sin­ga­pore­ans and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, who have a suf­fi­cient knowl­edge of the law’s pro­vi­sions, have al­ready em­braced the law with­out any dif­fi­culty.

Hong Kong to­day can be best de­picted in the words of Zengzi, the stu­dent of Con­fu­cius: “A wise man, shoul­der­ing the heavy bur­den of duty, must show re­silience and res­o­lu­tion dur­ing the long jour­ney of ful­fill­ing it.”

Vice-Premier Liu He’s re­cent re­marks at Lu­ji­azui Fo­rum 2020 in Shang­hai en­vi­sioned Hong Kong’s fu­ture. Liu said that Bei­jing was ex­pect­ing Hong Kong to demon­strate its strengths as an in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial center, and that con­crete ac­tions will be taken to pro­tect the rights and in­ter­ests of all in­vestors for the sus­tain­able pros­per­ity of the city. The speech in­di­cates that Hong Kong will re­main a vi­tal place in the land­scape of the Chi­nese econ­omy.

For now, Hong Kong is fac­ing sanc­tions by USled Western coun­tries. To over­come such threats, we must forgo the nar­row-minded, Hong Kong­cen­tered per­spec­tive and adopt the na­tional per­spec­tive. Be­fore Bei­jing as­signs any sig­nif­i­cant roles to the city, Hong Kong must be well-pre­pared to re­sist the in­fil­tra­tions and in­ter­fer­ences of for­eign pow­ers.

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