|Op-ed: It's only right and natural for China to safeguard national security in Hong Kong|
It is highly important and necessary for the National People's Congress (NPC) and its Standing Committee to establish and improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to safeguard national security for the state level.
The move is not only a necessary choice, right, and responsibility of the central government based on the current situation in the HKSAR. It’s only right and natural for the central government to do so, and no one shall deny its legality and legitimacy.
National security is a basic prerequisite for a country’s very survival and development and bears on its core interests. In countries of both unitary and federal systems, enacting national security laws falls within the state's legislative power.
When the HKSAR Basic Law was drafted, the central government delegated part of the power to enact national security legislation to the HKSAR through Article 23 of the Basic Law, which doesn’t change the fact that national security legislation falls within the authority of the central government, nor does it deprive the central government of its due responsibility and right in safeguarding national security.
Article 23 of the HKSAR Basic Law is a special arrangement under the “one country, two systems” principle. It not only demonstrates the central government’s trust in the HKSAR but also specifies the HKSAR’s constitutional obligation to safeguard national security. However, local legislation in this regard has been impeded in the past 20 plus years since the HKSAR returned to China despite the HKSAR’s consistent efforts, making Hong Kong remain “defenseless” in terms of national security, which is rarely seen in the world.
In recent years, the SAR has been facing an increasingly acute situation in safeguarding national security. In particular, since the anti-extradition protests in 2019, the “Hong Kong independence” and radical separatist forces have advocated “Hong Kong independence”, and organized violent crimes exhibiting a nature of terrorism supported by foreign interfering forces and “Taiwan independence” forces interfering in Hong Kong affairs. These violations seriously challenge the bottom line of the "one country, two systems" principle and seriously jeopardize state sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.
No single country will turn a blind eye to actions severely undermining its national security. A few radicals undermined the determination of China’s central government to safeguard national security, overall stability in Hong Kong and the wellbeing of 7.5 million Hong Kong compatriots.
The HKSAR has been re-integrated into China’s national governance system since the very day of its return. The central government bears the greatest responsibility for maintaining the constitutional order in the HKSAR, for full implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle, and for the proper enforcement of the HKSAR Basic Law.
Article 31 of China’s Constitution provides that “The state may establish special administrative regions when necessary. The systems to be instituted in special administrative regions shall be prescribed by law enacted by the National People's Congress in the light of the specific conditions.”
As national security is in peril in Hong Kong and it is difficult for the HKSAR to enact national security laws on its own, the decision of the NPC, the highest organ of state power, on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security is enshrined by the Constitution. It is beyond doubt the move is also an integral part of the central government exercising overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR.
The national security legislation for Hong Kong is targeted at secession, subversion, terrorism, external interference and other acts undermining national security. It only targets the small minority of people committing crimes to damage national security, and will in no way affect the legitimate rights and freedoms enjoyed by the majority of the citizens.
It’s necessary for China’s top legislative body to plug the loopholes in Hong Kong concerning national security. The move reflects the strong will and firm determination of the central government to safeguard national security. It also fully demonstrates resolute defence of and utmost care for the overall interests of Hong Kong and the fundamental wellbeing of Hong Kong compatriots.
Hong Kong, and the “one country, two systems” principle will surely embrace an even brighter future as long as national security is guaranteed.