CE refutes security law claims

July 7, 2020

(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.)


Chief Executive Carrie Lam today refuted allegations that the national security law enacted in Hong Kong signifies the death of “one country, two systems” or that the principle is being put in jeopardy.


Speaking to reporters ahead of the Executive Council meeting this morning, Mrs Lam noted that, on the contrary, the national security law aims to affirm and improve the implementation of “one country, two systems” by addressing risks of undermining national security, which is a matter within the purview of the central government.


“Enacting national security legislation to protect sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity is invariably the power and duty of the state in all countries. 'One country' is the foundation of 'two systems' and this foundation will be seriously shaken if territorial integrity is being compromised and national security is put at risk. This is a red line which should be very familiar to many of us and it should not be crossed.”


She said given the escalating national security risks since June last year, and the inability of both the Government and the Legislative Council to enact local legislation, the central government had to take resolute actions to safeguard the country's interests and preserve “one country, two systems”.


“In discharging the central government's responsibility over national security, the national security law provides for the setting up of a Central People’s Government office on national security in Hong Kong and reserving for the central government jurisdiction to handle offences under very specified circumstances and I believe these specified circumstances will be rare and through a very clear approval mechanism.


"These are all legitimate acts of the central government to fulfil the 'one country' requirement under the principle of 'one country, two systems'."


Regarding the allegation that the national security law is draconian and will undermine people's freedoms and spread fear amongst Hong Kong citizens, Mrs Lam said the law actually removes fear and lets Hong Kong people return to a normal, peaceful life.


“First of all I have not seen widespread fear amongst Hong Kong people in the last week and my response is - as some of the legal experts have commented in the past few days - this national security law is actually relatively mild as far as national security laws are concerned.


“First, its scope is very defined and confined. It only deals with four types of acts and activities endangering national security and the offences are clearly defined in law. The legal principles that we attach a lot of importance to, like presumption of innocence and no retrospective effect and so on, they are being upheld.


“The law respects and protects human rights as provided for under the Basic Law and relevant provisions in the two international covenants as applied to Hong Kong.


“So I would submit that instead of undermining people's freedom, the national security law will restore stability and help ensure that the great majority of Hong Kong people could exercise their rights and freedoms without being intimidated or attacked.


“So instead of spreading fear the law actually removes fear and lets Hong Kong people return to a normal, peaceful life. And Hong Kong will resume her status as one of the safest cities in the world.”


Mrs Lam also pointed out that the respect and protection of human rights is also demonstrated in the making of the implementation rules announced yesterday.


“The rules were made by the Chief Executive together with the national security committee at its inaugural meeting yesterday, and they laid down very clear processes, prerequisites and authorisations before Police in the National Security Department can resort to the measures and power under Article 43 of the law.”


She also dismissed untrue claims that the national security law was drafted in secret in Beijing and that the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Chief Executive were kept in the dark.


“My response is first, this is a piece of national law concerning matters outside of Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy. It is like defence and foreign affairs.


“Second, it is in line with Basic Law Article 18, which provides for the listing of national laws to Annex III and then promulgated for implementation in the Hong Kong SAR.


“Third, I have to admit that by now, it should be wishful thinking for us to expect LegCo in the current political climate to pass any national security law.


“Fourth, the National People’s Congress (NPC) is the highest organ of power in the People's Republic of China and has the authority to enact laws on national security, just like any other governments all over the world.


“And fifth, the NPC Standing Committee in preparing the draft legislation under delegated authority has actually listened to views expressed by many people and has taken into account Hong Kong's actual situation.


“Specifically, the NPC Standing Committee has listened to views of the Chief Executive, that is myself, and Hong Kong SAR Government key officials several times and taken on board our suggestions.


“Therefore, it is much regretted that my comment made on June 23 in this forum in response to a media enquiry that the Hong Kong SAR Government has not seen complete details of the proposed legislation was misrepresented or deliberately exaggerated as the Hong Kong SAR Government being totally kept in the dark. That is not the truth.”


The Chief Executive added that the Government will continue to explain the provisions in the law and put in place effective enforcement mechanisms.


“We will also enhance publicity and school education to better Hong Kong people's understanding of this important piece of legislation, so that they will not be misled.”

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