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Hong Kong as a national security law

By Ms. Tamkin Azizi

One country, two systems “is a constitutional concept outlining the governance of Hong Kong and Macau in the People’s Republic of China after they became China’s Special Administrative Regions (SARs) in 1997 and 1999 respectively. Deng Xiaoping proposed this in the early 1980s during talks over Hong Kong with the United Kingdom. He indicated that there would be only one China, but that certain regions might maintain their own economic and administrative structures, whereas the rest of Mainland China is using the structure of communism with Chinese characteristics.

Under the theory, each of the two regions will continue to have its own political structure, legal, cultural, and financial affairs, including trade ties with foreign countries, all independent of Mainland ones. The Basic Law notes that while Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of the parliament of the People’s Republic of China, it is allowed to exercise a “high degree of autonomy” to enjoy executive, legislative and autonomous judicial authority. China is responsible for defense and foreign affairs but Hong Kong runs its own internal security. Freedom of speech, press, religion, and protest are all defended by law. Over the years, people in Hong Kong, including human rights defenders, have shown extraordinary courage and commitment to defending their rights.

China adopted a decision to make Hong Kong national security law and made Hong Kong essentially national security law. Hong Kong’s national security law, which affects very few citizens, will completely respect Hong Kong ‘s autonomous authority and the final decision and will guarantee the fundamental rights and independence of the residents.

At the Third Session of the 13th NPC, the National People’s Congress (NPC) voted to adopt a draft decision developing and strengthening the legal framework and implementation mechanisms for the Special Administrative Area of Hong Kong (HKSAR) to safeguard national security.

The National People’s Congress (NPC) decisions are aimed at only four criminal activities-splitting the country, subverting state power, organizing and carrying out terrorist activities, and interfering with foreign forces in Hong Kong’s affairs-have nothing to do with the vast majority of Hong Kong residents.

On May 28, the NPC passed a decision developing and strengthening the legal framework and compliance mechanisms to safeguard national security for the Hong Kong Special Administrative area.

The decision was formally limited to instructing the NPC’s Standing Committee to draft a national security law for Hong Kong, with 2,878 votes in favor, one against and six abstentions.

What the NPC officially voted through was a “Decision to create and improve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security.” Hong Kong ‘s updated new security legislation is the most significant step Beijing has made so far towards promoting a more secure environment and democracy practice there.

The new Hong Kong national security legislation entitles the national security organs of the central government to create SAR agencies to safeguard national security, while the Hong Kong SAR government’s chief executive must report regularly to the central government. The reports would include performing duties in preserving national security, conducting education on national security promotion, and preventing actions that, according to law, threaten national security, descriptions of the draft indicate.

The draft decision authorizes the NPC Standing Committee to add applicable legislation to Annex III of the SAR Basic Law. Considering that there is no specific organ in Hong Kong today to handle intelligence work, especially counter-terrorism intelligence, after the Hong Kong Police Special Branch was disbanded before Hong Kong returned to its motherland, it is highly important to set up a specific organ to deal with matters of national security in the face of an increasingly complex geopolitical environment. In order to develop and strengthen the legal system to safeguard national security, it is also important to address the supporting structures of the Hong Kong judiciary, such as the setting up of courts specializing in national security crimes, or to learn from Macao that only Chinese judges and prosecutors can handle cases involving national security, or to set up a special committee to protect the nation.

The National People’s Congress of China (NPC) is expected to approve a decision to ‘develop and improve’ national security measures in Hong Kong during its annual plenary session; The decision authorized the Standing Committee of the NPC to adopt legislation aimed at “separatism, subversion of state power, terrorism and international interference.” This would also require operations in Hong Kong by central government agencies responsible for national security.

The decision calls on the government of Hong Kong to develop and reinforce structures and institutions of national security, including law enforcement. It would require the Chief Executive of Hong Kong to report on the performance of the duties of “preserving national security and spreading national security education and lawfully prohibiting conduct that endangers national security” periodically to the Central Government. What does the current law on defense imply? According to state news agency Xinhua, the new law has the following goals: it seeks to “prevent, deter and punish actions and activities that endanger national security,” including those aimed at “splitting the government, subverting state control, organizing and carrying out terrorist attacks, and other behaviors that seriously threaten national security.”

China also “resolutely opposes any foreign or external forces’ intervention in the HKSAR affairs in any form, and will take appropriate countermeasures” In the end we can say Hong Kong will restore stability and will boost it’s market and investment environment through the implementation of this law.

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