On June 30, the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) passed the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and adopted a decision to list the law in Annex III to the HKSAR Basic Law.
As a major move of the central government to manage Hong Kong affairs since its return to the motherland in 1997, the law will fully and faithfully implement the principle of “one country, two systems” and the HKSAR Basic Law, help safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, maintain Hong Kong’s lasting prosperity and stability, and ensure the long-term stability of “one country, two systems”. It bears both practical and historical significance.
The practice of “one country, two systems” has achieved a universally recognized success in Hong Kong since its return to the motherland. However, it has also encountered new circumstances and problems.
Especially since the disturbance related to the now-withdrawn ordinance amendments concerning the transfer of fugitives in the HKSAR last June, the “anti-China” forces in Hong Kong have publicly supported “Hong Kong’s independence,” “self-determination” and “referendum” and engaged in activities to undermine the national unity and separate Hong Kong from China.
Meanwhile, some foreign and external forces blatantly interfered in Hong Kong affairs, supporting and protecting the “anti-China” forces in Hong Kong and using Hong Kong to damage the national security of China.
The Chinese people, including the Hong Kong compatriots, have realized more than ever that the long-term absence of a national security law in Hong Kong has plunged the special administrative region into the gravest situation since its return to the motherland and that the collusion of “anti-China” forces inside and outside Hong Kong has greatly hindered the long-term stability of the “one country, two systems” principle.
The principle of “one country, two systems” was proposed to achieve and maintain national unity, while safeguarding national security is at the core of the principle.
Enacting the law on safeguarding national security in the HKSAR based on the authorization of the NPC, the Standing Committee of the NPC aims to improve institutional mechanisms related to the implementation of the Constitution, the HKSAR Basic Law, and the NPC Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the HKSAR to Safeguard National Security under new circumstances. It will work to plug the legal loopholes, make up for the lack of relevant mechanisms and deal with shortcomings of the HKSAR in safeguarding national security. Besides, it will also prompt the HKSAR to fulfill its constitutional and major responsibilities to safeguard national security, make systematic and comprehensive regulation in legal system and implementation mechanism at both national and the HKSAR levels, and properly handle the docking, compatibility, and complementarity between the law on safeguarding national security in the HKSAR and relevant national and HKSAR laws.
These efforts are made to fully and faithfully implement the principle of “one country, two systems” and make sure the principle is not distorted in practice and keeps advancing in the right direction.
The legislation on national security is a legislative power of every sovereign state, be it unitary or federal.
The law on safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, which has 66 articles in six chapters, is a comprehensive law that covers the contents in substantive law, procedural law and organic law.
It clearly stipulates the duties and government bodies of the HKSAR for safeguarding national security; the four categories of offences – secession, subversion, terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security – and their corresponding penalties; jurisdiction, applicable law and procedure; office of the central government for safeguarding national security in the HKSAR; and other contents.
The legislation thus establishes a legal system and enforcement mechanism for the HKSAR to safeguard national security.
It not only plugs the legal loopholes of Hong Kong in protecting national security, but effectively restrains the “anti-China” forces in Hong Kong, thus preventing and controlling the risks in national security and consolidating the foundation of “one country, two systems”.
Only when the basis of “one country” is guaranteed can Hong Kong embrace greater benefits of “two systems”.
It should be noted that the newly-adopted legislation only targets a few actions and activities that seriously endanger national security, such as “Hong Kong’s independence,” “black-clad violence,” and mobsters’ “mutual destruction.” It will not affect the capitalist system in the region or its high degree of autonomy and legal system.
Only with national security can Hong Kong guarantee its social stability, lay the foundations for solving development problems, and effectively protect the life and property safety, rights and freedom of the Hong Kong residents. National security will also enable the HKSAR government and society to concentrate on solving the deep-seated contradictions and problems related to the economy and people’s livelihood.
In a word, “one country, two systems” could only be put into better practice when national security is well protected.
The year 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the HKSAR Basic Law. As a legal and institutional embodiment of the “one country, two systems” principle, the HKSAR Basic Law has been adopted to maintain national unity and territorial integrity and protect Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
The newly-passed law on safeguarding national security in the HKSAR is believed to help ensure the long-term stability of “one country, two systems”.
While remaining true to its original aspiration and marching forward, the central government of China has enough sincerity and confidence to ensure that the “one country, two systems” principle remains unchanged and is unwaveringly upheld. It also has the resolve and capability to ensure no distortion of the “one country, two systems” practice.