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Q&A Concerning the Decision on Enacting HK National Security Legislation
2020/06/03

On May 28, China’s National People’s Congress deputies voted overwhelmingly at the third session of the 13th NPC to approve the NPC Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the HKSAR to Safeguard National Security. This decision will effectively safeguard national security in HKSAR, significantly consolidate and expand the legal, political and social foundations of "One Country, Two Systems." To better explain the necessity and importance of this decision, and address some questions and rumors, the embassy has prepared the following Q&A:

1,Why did China decide to enact Hong Kong national security legislation at the state level?

Since the illegal "Occupy Central" and the unrest following the proposed amendment bill in Hong Kong, the separatists and radicals are colluding with foreign forces in the city and have become more rampant, challenging the red line of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, and posing a real and major danger to China's national security. They openly advocating "Hong Kong independence" and "liberating Hong Kong", and even calling for "gaining independence through armed revolution" and "setting up an interim government" under the so-called "public square constitution". They chanted “fight for the United States”, and burned Chinese national flag, stained Chinese national emblem, attacked central government’s office in Hong Kong and HKSAR governments. They committed arson, threw self-made gasoline bombs on the street, which has displayed a terrorist nature. These behaviors have greatly damaged Hong Kong’s homeland security, political security and public security, greatly threatening the rule of law and people’s lives and property in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is facing the most serious situation since its return to China, and the "One Country, Two Systems" principle is in danger of derailing.

The serious and complicated situation in Hong Kong is highly related to the absence of a national security law. Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that Hong Kong shall prohibit activities that endanger national security through its legislation. However, since the return of Hong Kong in 1997, legislation for Article 23 has been incomplete due to interference from anti-China forces. Besides, some regulations meant to safeguard the national security under the current Hong Kong legal system are in a dormant state. Hong Kong is also short of capabilities in terms of national security mechanism and enforcement.

Hong Kong could no longer remains unguarded, and China would not allow the troublemakers in Hong Kong to collude with foreign anti-China forces to use Hong Kong for secession, subversion, infiltration and terrorism. Under the current situation, it is necessary to establish and improve the legal system and enforcement mechanism in Hong Kong to safeguard national security at the national level.

2,what’s the legal basis for the legislation?

The Central Government holds the primary and ultimate responsibility for national security in all sub-national administrative regions. This is the basic theory and principle underpinning national sovereignty and a common practice in countries around the globe. All countries, irrespective of their political or legal systems all have national security laws, and legislation on national security falls within a state's legislative power. For example, Australia has 2 national security laws, Britain has 3, Canada has 5, and the United States has over 20.

Article 31 of China’s Constitution provides, "The state may establish special administrative regions when necessary. The systems instituted in special administrative regions shall, in light of specific circumstances, be prescribed by laws enacted by the National People's Congress." Article 62 of China’s Constitution clearly endows the National People’s Congress the power to “oversee the enforcement of the Constitution”, “decide on the establishment of special administrative regions and the systems to be instituted there”, and “exercise other functions and powers that the highest state organ of power should exercise”. Article 18 of the Hong Kong Basic Law stipulates “The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress may add to or delete from the list of laws in Annex III after consulting its Committee for the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the government of the Region. Laws listed in Annex III to this Law shall be confined to those relating to defence and foreign affairs as well as other matters outside the limits of the autonomy of the Region as specified by this Law.”

NPC approves the establishment of HKSAR and is the authority that adopts its Basic Law. This security plan does not modify the Basic Law, nor does it replace or abolish the provisions of Article 23. HKSAR has a responsibility to complete Article 23 legislation quickly. Any legislation that maintains national security and its implementation must not contradict NPC decisions.

3, How will the legislation process be promoted?

It will be promoted by "decision + law".

As the first step, the NPC, in accordance with relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, has made the decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security on May 28. At the same time, the NPC Standing Committee is entrusted to formulate relevant laws on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security.

During the second step, the NPC Standing Committee, acting under authorization of the Constitution, the Basic Law and the NPC, will formulate relevant laws and regulations in light of specific circumstances in the HKSAR, which will be included in Annex III of the Basic Law and promulgated and implemented by the HKSAR. When formulating relevant laws, the NPC Standing Committee will seek opinions from people of all walks of life in Hong Kong in an appropriate way, as well as the HKSAR Basic Law Committee under the NPC Standing Committee and the HKSAR government.

4. .Will it affect Hong Kong residents' rights and freedoms?

Since the handover, the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents have been protected in accordance with the laws, and even with a wider range of rights and freedoms compared to the period of British colonial rule. However, no rights and freedoms are absolute, and they must be exercised within the confines of the law. Safeguarding national security is an important prerequisite and basis for protecting the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents.

The decision authorizes the NPC Standing Committee to make laws to target only acts of secession, subverting state power and organizing and carrying out terrorist activities, as well as interference in the HKSAR's internal affairs by foreign or external forces. The legislation will not affect the rights and freedoms Hong Kong citizens enjoy under the law, such as the freedoms of assembly, speech, and press, but will only better guarantee them in a safe environment. The national security legislation for Hong Kong will not change the "One Country, Two Systems" principle. It will not change the capitalist system or the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong. It will not change the legal system in the HKSAR. Foreign investors’ interests in Hong Kong will continue to be protected according to law. With real assurance of the national security, Hong Kong’s development will become better and better.

At present, the decision of making the Hong Kong national security legislation has gain broad populous support across Hong Kong. By the night of May 31, the petition supporting national security legislation has collected over 2.9 million resident signatures online and offline. We hope that international community can see the expectation of Hong Kong people, respect the measures taken by Chinese government to maintain national security, comprehensively and accurately implement the “one country, two systems” principle, and to maintain prosperity and stability of Hong Kong together.

5、Is it against the “one country, two systems” principle?

Maintaining national security is the core of "one country, two systems." "One country, two systems" is a complete concept. "One country" is the premise of the implementation of "two systems," which are subordinate to and derived from "one country" and unified under it. Without national security, there wouldn't be long-term stability and prosperity for the city and the country, and the "one country, two systems" policy would lose its foundation. The institutional arrangement by the NPC does not violate the "one country, two systems" principle, but firmly upholds it and ensures that it moves in the right direction.

6. Is it eroding the judicial autonomy of Hong Kong?

Article 2 of Basic Law says, “NPC authorises the HKSAR to exercise a high degree of autonomy and enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, in accordance with the provisions of this law.” Article 85 says, “The courts of HKSAR shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference. Members of the judiciary shall be immune from legal action in the performance of their judicial functions”. The judicial autonomy of Hong Kong is ensured by Basic Law. National security legislation for Hong Kong is aiming at closing the legal loophole of national security, it will not affect the Hong Kong courts’ independent exercise of its judicial power.

7. Will it affect Hong Kong's foreign enterprises?

The legislation will not affect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign enterprises in Hong Kong at all. In fact, social unrest is the enemy of investment and business development. Since the turmoil in June last year following proposed ordiance amendments, the violent terrorist activities of the "Hong Kong Independence" organization and the radical local separation forces have been escalating. External forces have deeply intervened in Hong Kong affairs illegally, severely trampled on the rule of law in Hong Kong, and undermined social stability and greatly harmed the investors’ confidence in Hong Kong. International authoritative agencies have repeatedly downgraded Hong Kong's credit rating, and Hong Kong’s ranking of global financial centers has also fallen to the sixth place.

The legislation will better protect the life and property safety and other legitimate rights and freedoms of residents in Hong Kong, and will better protect its high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law, which is conducive to maintaining the rule of law and business environment in Hong Kong. The dividend of long-term stable development of Hong Kong will bring more opportunities and benefits to people from all over the world who are willing to work, invest and live in Hong Kong.

8. Will it violate the “Sino-British Joint Declaration”?

The “Sino-British Joint Declaration” addresses the returning of Hong Kong. With China's resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, all rights and obligations related to the British side stipulated in the “Sino-British Joint Declaration” have been fulfilled. After the return of Hong Kong, the legal basis for the Chinese government to govern the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law of Hong Kong, instead of the “Sino-British Joint Declaration”. The countries concerned have no legal basis and no qualification to distort the “Sino-British Joint Declaration” to make irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs. Using the Declaration to point the finger at the Chinese government’s governance over Hong Kong is not only an interference in China’s internal affairs, but also a violation of basic principles of international law and international relations.

9. How to view some countries’ interference in China’s legislative issues?

Recently, some countries distorted the “Sino-British Joint Declaration” to make irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs, slander and smear China’ relevant national security legislation, and even threatened to make sanctions on China and Hong Kong. These are gross interference in China’s internal affairs. China firmly opposes and completely rejects them. Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, and no foreign country has the right to interfere. No matter what they say, the Chinese government’s determination to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests is unwavering, its determination to implement the “one country, two systems” principle is unwavering, and its determination of opposing interference by any external forces over Hong Kong affairs is unwavering.

We hope relevant countries can strictly abide by international law and basic norms of international relations, fully respect China’s sovereignty, and maintain an objective and fair position on issues related to Hong Kong.

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