Commissioner Xie Feng: national security legislation for Hong Kong is of greatest urgency, the Central Government has both power and obligation to safeguard national security, and the international community can rest assured



On 25 May 2020, Commissioner Xie Feng briefed foreign consular corps, chambers of commerce, international organizations and media in Hong Kong on national security legislation for Hong Kong and took questions from the audience. The main messages are as follows.


First, national security legislation for Hong Kong is right and proper and of greatest urgency.


National security is the very foundation for a country to survive and thrive, and enacting national security legislation is an exercise of a nation's sacrosanct sovereignty. No country will ever turn a blind eye to illegal acts that may jeopardize its national security. This is a consensus of the international community, which allows no double standards or hegemonic logic. It is simply unfair for any country to stigmatize and demonize others' efforts to plug national security loopholes, while it considers its own national security measures at home as completely justified and even cites "national security" as a pretext against others. In other words, national security should not be a privilege for only a few, or exploited as an excuse.


It has been 30 years since the promulgation of the Basic Law of the HKSAR and 23 years since Hong Kong's return. But because of the obstruction by the forces trying to sow trouble in Hong Kong and China as a whole, the legislation required by Article 23 of the Basic Law is yet to materialize. As a consequence, Hong Kong remains an "unguarded" city, highly unusual in the world. Hong Kong is part of China. It would be unacceptable if the city could never fulfill its constitutional obligation to safeguard national security, if it remained unguarded and full of loopholes, and if it was turned into an independent or semi-independent political entity and even a frontier for secession, subversion, infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland. The troublemakers in Hong Kong cannot be allowed to collude with foreign anti-China forces to impose sanctions on the city and confront China. The "Hong Kong independence" separatists cannot be left unchecked, and the extremists cannot have a free pass to commit violent terrorist acts.


Second, it is just and legitimate for the Central Government to safeguard national security, which is both within its power and its obligation.


The Central Government holds the primary responsibility for upholding the constitutional order in the HKSAR, and ensuring full and faithful implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" and the Basic Law. When national security is at peril and the HKSAR Government has difficulty enacting relevant laws on its own because of the forces inciting chaos in Hong Kong and China at large, the Central Government has to act decisively, and enact at the state level national security legislation for Hong Kong.


Legislation on national security falls within a state's legislative power. While the Central Government authorizes the HKSAR to enact laws on its own to safeguard national security through Article 23 of the Basic Law, it does not change the fact that national security legislation is essentially within the purview of the Central Authorities, nor does it mean the Central Authorities have forfeited the power to uphold national security. The decision of the NPC,the supreme organ of state power, to establish and improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law has solid legal grounds and the highest legal effect.


Third, national security legislation will ensure the enduring success of "One Country, Two Systems".


The NPC's decision is intended to set things right, plug the lethal loopholes in national security in Hong Kong, and reinforce the "One Country" foundation. It is to eradicate all potential obstacles, traps and threats impeding Hong Kong's development, ensure Hong Kong to fully leverage the benefits of "Two Systems" while adhering to the "One Country" basis, and uphold Hong Kong citizens' fundamental interests and extensive rights and freedoms enshrined in the law to the greatest extent possible.


Only when national security is safeguarded can "One Country, Two Systems" be fully, faithfully and smoothly implemented, can Hong Kong citizens have a sense of security, certainty and happiness, can Hong Kong enjoy greater stability and prosperity, and can the interests of all stakeholders, the international community included, be better protected.


Fourth, the international community can rest assured about the legislation for Hong Kong.


The Central Government is committed to two principles in implementing "One Country, Two Systems": First, to ensure the policy will remain unchanged; second, to ensure it will not be bent or distorted.


National security legislation for Hong Kong will not change the "One Country, Two Systems" policy. 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. Nor will it affect the independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, exercised by the judiciary in Hong Kong.


The NPC's legislative decision targets 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 external forces. It is the small minority of criminals jeopardizing national security that will be punished, while the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Hong Kong citizens will be protected. Any work or law enforcement efforts to safeguard national security will be conducted strictly in accordance with legal provisions, mandates and procedures, without prejudice to legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong citizens, legal persons and other organizations.


The legislation will not affect the rights and freedoms Hong Kong citizens enjoy under the law, such as the freedoms of speech, press, publication and assembly, but will only better guarantee them in a safe environment. It will not hinder the performance of duty by foreign consular corps, chambers of commerce and media in the city, but will further improve the climate for exchanges and cooperation between Hong Kong and foreign countries, and protect the law-based operation of international businesses here. The legislation will alleviate the grave concern among local and foreign business communities about the violent and terrorist forces attempting to mess up Hong Kong with the "burn with us" tactic, and will create a more law-based, reliable and stable business environment for foreign investors.


Therefore, for the majority of law-abiding citizens and foreign nationals who love Hong Kong, there is absolutely no need to panic, or worry that they may be unfavorably impacted; do not be intimidated or even misled and exploited by those with ulterior motives; and in particular, do not be a rumor-monger, or join the anti-China forces in stigmatizing and demonizing the legislation, still less meddle with or obstruct it.

Fifth, the Chinese government is rock-firm in upholding national sovereignty, security and development interests. in implementing the "One Country, Two Systems" policy, and in opposing any external interference in Hong Kong affairs.


The countries and organizations that the international institutions in Hong Kong represent are all beneficiaries of "One Country, Two Systems" and stakeholders in a prosperous and stable Hong Kong. Enduring success of the policy and Hong Kong serves the common interests of all.


It is hoped all sides will see the truth and come to their own conclusion on Hong Kong issues, respect the facts and the law, view the NPC's decision in a calm, objective and impartial manner, understand, respect and support China's legitimate efforts to safeguard national security in Hong Kong, and avoid any misinterpretation or misjudgment.

All stakeholders need to do what is best for Hong Kong's prosperity and stability and their own interests here rather than the other way around, stand with the majority of Hong Kong citizens who aspire for stability, growth and the rule of law, stay away from the separatists, violent terrorists and meddling external forces, and protect Hong Kong and make it a better place together.


Members of the international community need to abide by principles of international law and norms governing international relations, including mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference, fully and accurately understand and earnestly support "One Country, Two Systems". They need to avoid hampering China's endeavor to safeguard national security, and refrain from meddling with Hong Kong affairs, which are China's internal affairs, in any possible way.

After the briefing, Commissioner Xie answered questions from Consuls-General of Cambodia and Egypt to Hong Kong, Head of the European Union Office to Hong Kong, representatives of Japanese and Arab chambers of commerce in Hong Kong, and Reuters and TVB journalists, on the backdrop, timing and aim of the legislation, the legislative procedure and timetable, its impacts on the high degree of autonomy, citizens' rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the business environment in Hong Kong, and details and enforcement mechanisms of the legislation.


Over 130 delegates attended the press conference: consuls-general and senior officials from consulates-general of 58 countries in Hong Kong, including France, Germany, the UK, Japan, Russia, Brazil and Singapore, and Head of the European Union Office to Hong Kong; members of 15 international chambers of commerce in Hong Kong representing countries including the US, Japan, the UK, Arab countries and Australia; 17 media outlets including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, CNN, NHK, Reuters, Bloomberg, The Economist, the South China Morning Post, TVB, Phoenix TV, Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao, CCTV, Xinhua News Agency, China News Service and China Daily, and heads of offices of international organizations to Hong Kong including the Bank for International Settlements, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration.


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