Beijing will listen to HK opinions

Top News | Sophie Hui 4 Jun 2020

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is heading back to Hong Kong today from Beijing with an intention to collect more opinions from various sectors on the national security law soon to take hold in the SAR.

But after a meeting with Vice Premier of the State Council Han Zheng she believes the central government is already well aware of opinions of Hongkongers and other nations on the law.

And Lam, who met Han yesterday afternoon, did not reveal whether the national security law is set to follow Hong Kong’s common law principles and whether it will be retroactive.

Also at the three-hour high-level meeting in Zhongnanhai were the minister of public security, Zhao Kezhi, and the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Xia Baolong.

Lam said the central government is hearing opinions about Hong Kong in various ways.

Apart from the SAR administration overall, she said, the central government will hear opinions from Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwanyuen, local legal experts, Hong Kong deputies to the National People’s Congress and members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

The central government also plans to hold forums in Shenzhen and Beijing to allow people from various sectors to express their views.

“I call on all sectors of Hong Kong society to actively participate in these gatherings and share opinions to the SAR government and the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong  through various channels,” Lam said.

She also said the consultation must be done according to the rules of national legislation as it is a national law.

Asked about opinions she had offered in the meeting and if she told Beijing officials about the worries of citizens and representatives of other countries, Lam said she would not disclose details of the discussions.

“But nowadays, with the immense flow of information, officials in the central government will be aware of views from Hong Kong and foreign countries on this significant matter,” she said.

“So I believe it does not require the chief executive to go to Beijing in person to reflect those opinions.”

But Lam quoted Han as saying the central government is resolute about the legislation and wants to fully and faithfully implement the policies of one country, two systems and safeguard national security.

The law is also to defend the country’s sovereignty, security and the country’s development and interests, she quoted Han as saying. It is also for safeguarding the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.

Han also said the national security law will only punish the small number of people involved in activities that seriously undermine national security, while the freedoms and rights of most citizens will not be affected.

Lam repeated the line that foreign governments including the United States and Britain apply double standards on the national security law for the SAR, and she could not see how any sanctions will affect Hong Kong.

“I can only say that the international community and some foreign governments have been adopting blatant double standards in dealing with this matter and commenting on this matter,” she said.

“It is within the legitimate jurisdiction of any country to enact laws to protect and safeguard national security. The USA is no exception, the UK is no exception. So why should they object, resist or even condemn and impose sanctions against Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China for taking similar actions?”

Lam also said the central government “has no alternative but to take action” when its sovereignty is being undermined by advocates of Hong Kong independence and terrorist activities, stressing that “one country” is the important pillar and “without one country, there is no two systems.”

She said too the SAR administration supports and will cooperate with the legislation as Hong Kong safeguards national security “strongly and powerfully.”

Legislative president Leung said he will tell the central government that some lawmakers opposed the legislation, though he needed to give more thought to the issue when there are details about the law.

Political scientist Ma Ngok from the Chinese University of Hong Kong believed the Lam meeting was not for her to reflect citizens’ opinions but to listen to orders from Beijing officials.

“The aim of this trip could from top to bottom to have been to tell [SAR officials] what to do,” he said.

He also believed the planned forums on the national security law will be more for making announcements rather than collecting opinions.

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