Decision sealed in October to plug security loopholes

Top News | Michael Shum 25 May 2020

The central government is determined to legislate the national security law for Hong Kong, having thoroughly thought over the issue since last year, Vice Premier Han Zheng told SAR deputies to the National People's Congress yesterday in Beijing.

Han said Beijing decided to legislate the national security law in October, adding that the legislation and Basic Law Article 23 do not contradict each other and that the city still has the responsibility to enact Article 23 by local legislation.

Director Xia Baolong, deputy director Zhang Xiaoming and Luo Huining of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office also attended the meeting.

Han, who oversees Hong Kong and Macau affairs, said he hopes local deputies can use language that will resonate with Hongkongers to promote and interpret the legislation of the national security law and allay fears.

The president of the pro-Beijing Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, Stanley Ng Chau-pei, one of the deputies at the meeting, said Han stressed that the legislation was proposed after careful consideration and will complement Basic Law Article 23.

"The SAR [has not been able to] enact Article 23 of the Basic Law despite the 23 years [since the handover]," Ng quoted Han as saying. "Combined with the recent unrest and violent incidents, it is clear there is a loophole in national security.

"There is a need to plug the loophole by the central government, and the decision [to legislate] was made after serious consideration. The decision was based on the interests of Hong Kong and the country, and took into consideration historic and ethnic factors."

Ng also quoted Han as saying that Beijing has shown that it trusts Hong Kong as it allowed Hong Kong to legislate its own version of national security laws.

But Han said this did not mean the central government had "lost its power over safeguarding national security."

Another deputy, Ng Leung-sing, said Han told them during the meeting not to underestimate the central government's determination to set up national security laws for Hong Kong, with Han stressing that the legislation only focuses on a small number of people.

"The objective of the legislation is to achieve long-term stability and protect investors. I hope everyone will keep supporting the chief executive and the SAR government so as to solve education, housing and deeply embedded problems," Han told deputies.

Executive councillor Ip Kwok-him, another deputy, said Han said the central government expects opposition parties and radical protesters to continue organizing riots.

In an earlier meeting with Han, Tu Hai-ming, a Hong Kong member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the central government "can entirely remove the soil that breeds advocacy for Hong Kong independence by reassuring Hongkongers' confidence in one country, two systems," Tu said.

He said protesters have caused hundreds of violent incidents since June during the anti-fugitive bill saga, putting Hongkongers' safety at risk, and tried to cross the bottom line of one country, two systems.

The NPC Standing Committee should use its power to interpret the Basic Law and its supervisory power to guide and supervise the enactment of Article 23, Tu said.

michael.shum@singtaonewscorp.com

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