Hong Kong: No double standard in safeguarding national security

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing at the State Department on Wednesday

In the context of China, national security means the stability of the leadership under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners yesterday vowed to take to the streets in protest over what they said was China's fiercest assault on the territory's treasured autonomy with its move to impose a security law. This time, Beijing has chose to circumvent the territory's law-making body using what critics say are dubious legal grounds under the Basic Law, which has served as a sort of constitution for Hong Kong since its return to China from British colonial rule in 1997.

He also vowed that "any decision impinging on Hong Kong's autonomy and freedoms ... would inevitably impact our assessment of One Country, Two Systems and the status of the territory".

Pompeo said the "disastrous proposal" would be the "death knell" for Hong Kong's autonomy and that the United States stood with the people of Hong Kong.

The proposed bill, submitted on the opening day of China's national legislative session Friday, is aimed at forbidding secessionist and subversive activity, as well as foreign interference and terrorism.

While the Chinese government controls China's judiciary, Hong Kong has its own legal system, and the courts have always been regarded as independent and highly professional.

Why has China moved to impose the law?

After years of lobbying, the United States passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

Beijing also expressed its "strong indignation" this week over USA criticisms, with statements from China's foreign, defense and Taiwan affairs departments accusing Washington of violating the One-China Policy and interfering in China's internal affairs.

The security legislation is expected to be voted upon next week, with lawmakers having yet to flesh out an actual law.

"Especially having gone through nearly one year of disruptions, violence and uncertainties, anything particularly in safeguarding national security that will help stabilise the environment is indeed very good for local investment sentiment", she said.

What is Hong Kong's legal situation?

On Friday, campaigners urged mass protests over the weekend against the law, which they see as an erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy. "China's imposition of a Hong Kong security law under the cover of Covid-19 shows the need for strong global action".

That too could encompass wide-ranging acts and activities that the authoritarian rulers on the mainland consider far more menacing than those in Hong Kong, or for that matter elsewhere.

The Chinese government conceptualizes "national security" in such a broad manner that people exercising their basic human rights and defending them peacefully, including activists, human rights lawyers, scholars, ethnic minorities, and netizens, are detained and imprisoned for years - sometimes for life - for crimes such as "subversion", "inciting subversion", "splittism", and "leaking state secrets".

The Hong Kong government tried to introduce national security legislation in 2003, prompting massive protests and the withdrawal of the bill. Hong Kong's people should never give up voicing their demands for democracy.

Henry Tang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the legislation was "beneficial" for the business environment as it brings stability and strengthens the rule of law.

"For 23 years, in the absence of proper national security legislation, I think the central government has been very tolerant", said Liao, during a a press briefing held by the pro-Beijing camp.

Hong Kong was under British control for more than 150 years up to 1997.

The Sino-British Joint declaration that resulted in the 1997 handover of the British colony to China included a mini-constitution, named the Basic Law.

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