Govt opposes US report

March 31, 2021

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today expressed strong opposition to the comments contained in the US State Department's 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices relating to the Hong Kong SAR.


The Government said human rights are fully protected by law in Hong Kong. The Basic Law, which serves as the constitutional document of the Hong Kong SAR, provides a constitutional guarantee for fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to equality before the law, and is buttressed by the rule of law and an independent judiciary.


Safeguarding human rights and freedoms is a constitutional duty of the Hong Kong SAR Government. It attaches the utmost importance to and is firmly committed to upholding human rights and various freedoms in Hong Kong.


The report calls into question China’s willingness to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle. Such an accusation is utterly groundless.


The Hong Kong SAR is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China, is a local administrative region that enjoys a high degree of autonomy under “one country, two systems” and comes directly under the Central People’s Government (CPG).


To uphold and implement the principle of “one country, two systems” meets the interests of the Hong Kong people, responds to the needs of maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and serves the fundamental interests of the nation. The CPG has time and again made it clear that it will unswervingly implement the policy of “one country, two systems”.


The Government also strongly objects to the comments in the report smearing the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR.


National security is a matter within the purview of the central authorities. It is the legitimate right and duty of every country to safeguard its national security. Whether it is in a unitary or federal system, legislation on national security is invariably carried out by the central authorities rather than a local government.


Enacting laws on national security with extraterritorial effect is also squarely in line with international practice. Smearing the National Security Law out of political motivation is clear hypocrisy in adopting double standards.


The Government said the National Security Law upholds the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people as well as the high degree of autonomy of the Hong Kong SAR.


It clearly stipulates that the Hong Kong SAR shall protect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by residents under the Basic Law and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong in accordance with the law.


However, certain rights and freedoms recognised in the ICCPR are not absolute: the ICCPR stipulates that certain rights and freedoms may be subject to restrictions as prescribed by law if it is necessary in the interests of national security, public safety, public order or the rights and freedoms of others, etc.


The National Security Law has clearly stipulated four categories of offences that endanger national security. It clearly sets out the elements of the offences, penalties, mitigation factors and other consequences. There is no chance of law-abiding people inadvertently violating the law. The arrests made by Police are based on evidence and strictly according to the laws in force.


The National Security Law, like any law in the Hong Kong SAR, applies equally to every person in Hong Kong; no one is above the law. The Government is appalled by remarks in the report that seemed to suggest that people with certain political backgrounds should be immune to legal sanctions.


Moreover, the Government does not agree to the report’s claim that the decision to disqualify four LegCo members “sought to restrict the rights to express or report on dissenting political views”.


The National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s (NPCSC) decision on the qualification of LegCo members of the Hong Kong SAR on November 11, 2020 is applicable to sixth-term LegCo members whose nominations were decided to be invalid.


The decision was made in accordance with law by the Hong Kong SAR during the nomination period of the election for the seventh-term LegCo originally scheduled for September 6, 2020.


Four members of the sixth-term LegCo have submitted nomination to run for the seventh-term LegCo General Election that was originally scheduled for September 6, 2020.


Their nominations were invalidated by Returning Officers before the end of the nomination period, hence they lost the qualification for running for the election and were immediately disqualified from being LegCo members.


The NPCSC’s decision is a constitutional, lawful and reasonable arrangement. It is necessary and complies with the relevant stipulations of the Basic Law.


The Government reiterated that foreign governments should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of the Hong Kong SAR.

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