Why Hong Kong needs the National Security Law
Published on: Monday, July 27, 2020
By: Liang Caide
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On May 28, the 13th National People’s Congress of China (NPC) adopted at its Third Session the NPC Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR).  

On June 30, the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the founding of HKSAR, the Standing Committee of NPC passed the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR, and listed it under Annex III of the Basic Law, which was announced and implemented locally by the HKSAR.  

With 66 articles, the National Security Law has six chapters, stipulates the duties and the Government Bodies of the HKSAR for safeguarding national security, clarifies four types of offenses and penalties that endanger national security, and officially establishes Hong Kong’s legal system and enforcement mechanisms for maintaining national security .

Recently, friends from Sabah often asked me whether Hong Kong’s new national security law will affect the central government’s policy of One Country, Two Systems and a high degree of autonomy, and whether it will harm Hong Kong’s prosperity and freedom.  To help you to better understand the National Security Legislation for HKSAR, I will briefly explain a few issues that my friends are most concerned of.

Why did China enact the National Security Legislation for HKSAR?

Since June 2019, the protracted street violence and social unrest has cast a shadow on Hong Kong, and everyone who cares about Hong Kong feels heartbroken.  

The activities of the “Hong Kong Independence” organization and the radical local separatist forces are rampant.  Attacks, arson, destruction, and other violent terrorist activities have been escalating, which has seriously damaged the safety and stability of Hong Kong.  Some people even openly advocated “Hong Kong Independence” and held high the quisling slogan.  

Foreign anti-China forces use Hong Kong as a “bridgehead” to contain China, collude with a few destabilizing rioters in Hong Kong to maliciously create scourges.  Intensifying violent activities that have apparent local terrorist nature has seriously affected the ground of Hong Kong’s economy and people’s livelihood. 

The turbulence has not only cost Hong Kong the title of the world’s freest economy, a title it had held for 25 years, its GDP contracted for the first time in a decade and unemployment hit a record high.  Hong Kong has fallen into the most critical situation since its return.

The root cause of the chaos in Hong Kong is its national security was fraught with loopholes.  Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law grants the HKSAR legislative authority to safeguard national security on its own.

Nearly 23 years, however, the relevant legislative process was still not materialized due to the obstruction by anti-China forces.  

Hong Kong’s legal system for safeguarding national security was consequently blank, and in lack of enforcement mechanisms, it had been in a state of “undefended” for a long time.  National security is the top priority of a country.  

No country will allow acts that endanger national security on its own territory, or takes no action against loopholes in the national security safeguarding mechanisms.  The central government holds the primary and ultimate responsibility for safeguarding national security.  

The establishment and improvement of the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the HKSAR at the state level, is a practical response to the demands and expectations of mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong.  It is the core measure to safeguard Hong Kong’s security from danger, turn chaos into order and bring hope to desperation.  

It is also a fundamental policy to maintain the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong in building a stronger legal defense for the national security of China as a whole.

­Does the National Security Legislation for HKSAR undermine One Country, Two Systems policy?

In 1997, Hong Kong ushered in a new era of One Country, Two Systems, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy.  Since then, Hong Kong has its executive, legislative and independent judiciary power, including that of final adjudication, and retained its capitalist system and way of life.  

What has happened after its return fully demonstrates that the concept of One Country, Two Systems provides the best solution to the problems of Hong Kong, as well as the best institutional arrangement to ensure Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.  

Unswervingly advancing the cause of One Country, Two Systems conforms to China’s fundamental interests and the common interests of the international community, including foreign investors.

The National Security Legislation of HKSAR not only fully complies with the principle of One Country, Two Systems, but will also ensure the successful implementation of One Country, Two Systems.  

One Country, Two Systems is an integrated concept, “One Country” is the premise of “Two Systems”, while “Two Systems” is subordinate to and derived from “One Country”.  

Should the principle of “One Country” be upheld, “Two Systems” would be possible to practice.  

The meaning of “One Country” is not only reflected in China resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, but also in the central government’s comprehensive jurisdiction over Hong Kong.  

The formulation of the National Security Legislation for HKSAR is precisely to consolidate the foundation of One Country, Two Systems and to ensure that One Country, Two systems is advancing in the right direction.  

Only when national security is ensured can Hong Kong’s long-term development and stability be assured.

Will the National Security Legislation for HKSAR harm Hong Kong’s prosperity and freedom?

In the past 23 years, Hong Kong, which has returned to the embrace of the motherland, has closely relied on the mainland.  

Having withstood the impact of the Asian financial crisis, the SARS epidemic and the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Hong Kong has continuously emerged stronger as an international financial, shipping and trading center.  Substantial advances in economy and society were made.  

Looking around the world, all countries with international financial centers such as New York, London, Tokyo, and Singapore have enacted national security laws earlier on, and some even have the most national security laws in the world, but their foreign investment has not been affected in any way.  

The grim facts of the past year have evidenced that social turmoil is the biggest enemy that affects investor’s confidence.  Enduring Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability would be out of the question without the safeguarding of the national security.  

After the implementation of the National Security Legislation for HKSAR, neither the capitalist system nor its legal system will change.  

On the contrary, Hong Kong’s political and business environment will be better maintained, and people from all over the world will enjoy a more stable and peaceful environment when they do business, work and live in Hong Kong.  

Stocks in Hong Kong climbed 2.85pc on their first trading day since national security laws were imposed, and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s offshore financial products recorded the biggest gain in three months.

It fully reflected the vast investors have full confidence and expectations for the promulgation of the National Security Legislation for HKSAR.

The National Security Legislation for HKSAR targets the most prominent risk points in the national security system.  

The law criminalizes four types of acts: secession, subversion, terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or with external forces to endanger national security and stipulates the corresponding penalties.  

Article 4 of the law clearly stipulates: “Human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.  The rights and freedoms, including the freedoms of speech, of the press, of publication, of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration, which the residents of the Region enjoy under the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law.”  

It can be said that, for the very few people who endanger the national security, this law is a high-hanging sword; for the vast majority of residents and foreigners in Hong Kong, this law is the “guardian angel” to safeguard their rights, freedom and peaceful life.  They will continue to enjoy full democratic freedom, their civil rights are not less than any Western country.

Why do a few Western countries interfere with the National Security Legislation for HKSAR?

Regarding the decision on the National Security Legislation for HKSAR, a few Western countries such as the United States and United Kingdom have reacted strongly and reproached China’s measures to safeguard its own national security, claiming that it’s a violation against China’s international obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and even to impose so-called “sanctions” measures that harm others without benefiting to themselves.  

In fact, since its founding, the People’s Republic of China has always been committed to safeguarding the basic norms of international law and international relations, earnestly fulfilling its own international responsibilities and obligations, participating in more than 100 intergovernmental international organizations, and signing more than 500 multilateral treaties.  

China has never “withdrawn from groups” or “breach contracts” and has never sought “us first” at the expense of others.  That label is more suited to some other countries.  The Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by China and the UK in 1984 is a document concerning China’s recovery of Hong Kong and relevant arrangements during the transition period.  

As China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, all provisions concerning the UK under the Joint Declaration had been fulfilled.  The commitments made by China in the Joint Declaration have also been fully embodied in the Basic Law enacted by the NPC and have been fully implemented.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, and Hong Kong’s issues are purely China’s internal affairs.  Such a common fact has been “intentionally” ignored by certain countries and forces.  The Sino-British Joint Declaration does not assign the UK or any other countries any responsibility over HKSAR.  

No country other than China has sovereignty, jurisdiction, or right of supervision over Hong Kong.  The Sino-British Joint Declaration cannot be exploited as an excuse to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs by Western countries.  

Some countries have introduced sanctions against China and even threatened to change the arrangements for Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Passport (BNO) holders.  

This is not only a gross interference in China’s internal affairs, but also a flagrant violation of the basic norms of international relations. 

A few countries have been unease on Hong Kong’s national security laws, but their own national security laws are more stringent.  

I am afraid what they really care about is not the freedom of Hong Kong’s residents, but the “freedom” that undermines China’s national security as they please.  

China’s formulation of the National Security Legislation for HKSAR has received firm support from the righteous forces of the international community.  Not long ago, at the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, more than 70 countries expressed support for the National Security Legislation for HKSAR.


The implementation of the National Security Legislation for HKSAR has provided strong support for the enduring stability and development of One Country, Two Systems, as well as a solid assurance for the rights and freedoms for the residents of Hong Kong.  

It can be determined as an important milestone in the process of One Country, Two Systems and has great immediate and profound historical significance.  I am convinced that under the strong leadership of the Chinese Central Government, with the joint efforts of all people in China, including the vast fellow compatriots in Hong Kong, and the adequate protection of the National Security Legislation, the future of the “Pearl of the Orient” will be safer, better and more prosperous!

- Liang is the Consul General  of the People’s Republic of China in Kota Kinabalu

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