Se­cu­rity law for HK ce­ments ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’

Le­gal doc­u­ment gives fi­nal say to cen­tral govt

Global Times - - FRONT PAGE - By GT staff re­porters

China’s top law­mak­ers on Tues­day voted unan­i­mously to en­act a draft law to safe­guard na­tional se­cu­rity in Hong Kong at the 20th ses­sion of the 13th Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress (NPC) Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, which ended on Tues­day af­ter­noon in Bei­jing.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping signed a pres­i­den­tial de­cree un­veil­ing the law.

The na­tional se­cu­rity law for Hong Kong was re­viewed dur­ing a three-day ses­sion of China’s top leg­is­la­ture, and sub­mit­ted for a vote on Mon­day.

The leg­is­la­ture, defin­ing the spe­cific crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties that threaten na­tional se­cu­rity, is rea­son­able, nec­es­sary and in line with the Chi­nese Con­sti­tu­tion,

ac­cord­ing to some Hong Kong deputies to the NPC.

It is also jus­ti­fied as its po­lit­i­cal and le­gal le­git­i­macy can stand the his­tor­i­cal test, which won’t change the way peo­ple live in Hong Kong, or de­prive the le­git­i­mate rights they en­joy un­der “one coun­try, two sys­tems” and the Ba­sic Law, ob­servers said.

The law has been in­cluded in the An­nex III of the Ba­sic Law of the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion (HKSAR), tak­ing ef­fect at 11:00 pm on Tues­day and giv­ing de­tailed de­scrip­tion of four cat­e­gories of crimes and penal­ties, namely acts of se­ces­sion, sub­ver­sion of state power, ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties, and col­lu­sion with for­eign or ex­ter­nal forces to en­dan­ger

“En­act­ing the law would help re­build the po­lit­i­cal mu­tual trust be­tween the main­land and Hong Kong”

Lau Siu-kai a vice pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong and Ma­cao Stud­ies

na­tional se­cu­rity.

And the max­i­mum penalty will be life im­pris­on­ment, the le­gal doc­u­ment shows. Un­der the law, the Chi­nese cen­tral gov­ern­ment would es­tab­lish a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Of­fice in HKSAR to deal with na­tional se­cu­rity af­fairs in Hong Kong. The of­fice has ul­ti­mate ju­ridi­cal power as it would “have the fi­nal say” on na­tional se­cu­rity-re­lated cases and has ab­so­lute law en­force­ment power in oc­ca­sion of ur­gency and ne­ces­sity.

Crimes and penal­ties

There is no clause rel­e­vant to retroac­tiv­ity in the law. How­ever, le­gal ex­perts said they will con­sider the de­tailed de­scrip­tions of crimes tar­get­ing a num­ber of il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties amid the so­cial tur­moil trig­gered by the anti-ex­tra­di­tion bill move­ment since June 2019.

For in­stance, the crimes of sub­ver­sion also in­clude se­ri­ously dis­rupt­ing and pre­vent­ing cen­tral gov­ern­ment agen­cies or HKSAR gov­ern­ment agen­cies from per­form­ing their du­ties, at­tack­ing and van­dal­iz­ing fa­cil­i­ties of th­ese agen­cies and mak­ing them dys­func­tional.

Vi­o­lent ri­ot­ers van­dal­ized the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil and the li­ai­son of­fice of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in HKSAR in 2019.

“The pur­pose of es­tab­lish­ing the law has never been im­pos­ing ‘max­i­mum re­tal­i­a­tion,’ with no in­ten­tion of in­ves­ti­gat­ing the past or set­tling ac­counts. The law is to pre­vent ri­ot­ing in the fu­ture, while giv­ing many peo­ple a fresh restart,” Lau Siu-kai, a vice pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong and Ma­cao Stud­ies, told the Global Times.

Such a le­gal ar­range­ment mir­rors the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s re­spect for Hong Kong’s com­mon law sys­tem. Par­tic­u­larly, the un­ex­pected de­ci­sion to of­fer cer­tain Hong Kong res­i­dents a clean slate by not tar­get­ing their pre­vi­ous ques­tion­able words and deeds shows the ex­tra con­sid­er­a­tion and care granted by law­mak­ers to re­as­sure res­i­dents and en­cour­age them to look to­ward the fu­ture rather than get­ting stuck in the past, ob­servers said.

Un­der the law, the HKSAR gov­ern­ment will set up The Com­mit­tee for Safe­guard­ing Na­tional Se­cu­rity, chaired by the chief ex­ec­u­tive, to pro­tect na­tional se­cu­rity. It also al­lows the chief ex­ec­u­tive to ap­point judges to han­dle na­tional se­cu­rity cases.

The new law is be­lieved to have stricken a bal­ance be­tween Hong Kong’s com­mon law sys­tem and the main­land’s civil law sys­tem, though stip­u­la­tions would be dif­fer­ent. But it can bring dif­fer­ences to­gether while tak­ing into ac­count the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the com­mon law, said Tam Yiu-chung, a mem­ber of the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee.

“The law shows that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment re­lies, trusts and de­pends on HKSAR in law en­force­ment on na­tional se­cu­rity af­fairs, as the lat­ter bears most of the re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Tam said.

Re­build­ing trust

The law states that the Com­mit­tee for Safe­guard­ing the Na­tional Se­cu­rity of the HKSAR, led by the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the HKSAR gov­ern­ment, would not be within the scope of ju­ridi­cal re­view, and its work won’t be in­ter­fered by any or­ga­ni­za­tion, in­sti­tu­tion and per­son­nel, and re­main undis­closed.

“Na­tional se­cu­rity af­fairs are es­sen­tially rel­e­vant to the au­thor­ity of the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, and Hong Kong’s le­gal ju­ris­dic­tion is con­ferred by the na­tional law,” said Tian Fei­long, a Hong Kong af­fairs and le­gal ex­pert at Bei­hang Univer­sity in Bei­jing.

The law estab­lished by China’s top au­thor­ity is deemed as an act of state, which can’t be con­strained by lo­cal laws in Hong Kong. Sim­i­larly, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Hong Kong do not have ju­ris­dic­tion over cen­tral gov­ern­ment agen­cies, and can’t legally chal­lenge them, ac­cord­ing to some ex­perts.

“En­act­ing the law would help re­build the po­lit­i­cal mu­tual trust be­tween the main­land and Hong Kong, which have been se­verely harmed by the past year’s so­cial tur­moil. As the city has not been able to ful­fill its re­spon­si­bil­ity to safe­guard na­tional se­cu­rity, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment was wor­ried about the city be­com­ing a pawn of for­eign forces, ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’ is also fac­ing great chal­lenges,” Lau said.

He also noted that due to a lack of a na­tional se­cu­rity law for Hong Kong, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment was wor­ried about anti-China and anti-cen­tral gov­ern­ment forces be­com­ing po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates, which would fur­ther threaten the au­thor­ity of the HKSAR.

Photo: Xin­hua

A group of Hong Kong res­i­dents cel­e­brate the pas­sage of the na­tional se­cu­rity law for Hong Kong and mark the 23rd an­niver­sary of Hong Kong re­turn­ing to China in Cause­way Bay on Tues­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.