Commissioner's Office warns external forces: press freedom is no free pass, and no one has privilege above the law to sow trouble in Hong Kong and China at large

The spokesperson of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the HKSAR expressed strong disapproval of and firm opposition to the groundless accusations a small handful of American politicians and organizations continued to heap upon the HKSAR Government's lawful actions against Apple Daily. Such blatant interference in Hong Kong affairs, which are China's internal affairs, and even threats with sanctions on the pretext of press freedom have trampled upon the rule of law and judicial independence, and gravely violated international law and basic norms governing international relations.


The spokesperson said that Hong Kong is governed by the rule of law, where the law shall be strictly abided by and any lawbreaker shall be held accountable. Press freedom is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, nor does anyone have privilege above the law to sow trouble in Hong Kong and China at large. The Hong Kong police's actions against individuals and companies suspected of endangering national security are just efforts to combat crime and uphold law and order, and have nothing to do with press freedom. The law enforcement and judicial authorities of the HKSAR have handled the cases fairly in strict accordance with legal mandates, provisions and procedures, and external forces are in no place to pass judgment. Some people, however, have kept obstructing the HKSAR's law enforcement efforts and tried to condone and justify the suspects on the pretext of press freedom. Their true motive is to destabilize Hong Kong, undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, sow division in society, and play Hong Kong as a card to exert pressure on China. But such plots, no matter how packaged, are doomed to fail.


The spokesperson pointed out that the Basic Law of the HKSAR and the National Security Law for the HKSAR safeguard the lawful rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents, including freedoms of speech and the press. The introduction of the National Security Law for the HKSAR has ensured national security, social tranquility and peaceful lives of Hong Kong citizens, and enabled Hong Kong to focus on fighting Covid-19 together, reigniting the economy and improving livelihoods. With the implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan and the Greater Bay Area initiative, Hong Kong's status as an international financial, trading and shipping center has been further enhanced, its rule of law and business environment improved, the social atmosphere become more harmonious, and its economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation with the rest of the world better protected. The doomsaying about Hong Kong is baseless and will surely go bankrupt once again.


The spokesperson emphasized that we are resolutely committed to defending national sovereignty, security and development interests, and to opposing hegemony and power politics. China has enacted the Law on Countering Foreign Sanctions. Any attempt by external forces to flagrantly meddle with Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs at large and infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese people, including our Hong Kong compatriots, will definitely be firmly hit back.


The spokesperson reiterated that no pressure or sanction would ever stop Hong Kong's transformation from chaos to stability to further prosperity, or sway the staunch determination of the Central and the SAR governments to implement the National Security Law for the HKSAR and maintain Hong Kong's long-term stability, or reverse the historical trend towards enduring success of "One Country, Two Systems". We urge the very few external forces to immediately stop their clumsy political show, and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs at large under whatever pretext.

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