Govt opposes US report

March 21, 2023

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today strongly disapproved of and firmly rejected the unfounded remarks and smears contained in the US Department of State's so-called 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in respect of several issues, including the National Security Law, Hong Kong's improved electoral system and the situation of human rights and rule of law.


In its statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government said the US made despicable tricks again through issuing the so-called annual report, which override law by politics, with an attempt to undermine the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong by politicising human rights issues and slandering the human rights situation and rule of law in the city.


It strongly urged the US to immediately stop using human rights as an excuse to interfere in the internal affairs of the Hong Kong SAR of the People's Republic of China.


While stressing that it deplores the US' erroneous statement in the so-called report on Hong Kong's improved electoral system and the 2022 Chief Executive Election, the Hong Kong SAR Government pointed out that the improved electoral system puts in place legal safeguards to ensure full implementation of "patriots administering Hong Kong".


“Loyalty to one's country is a politician's most basic political ethics, and a universally applicable and steadfastly upheld principle and standard. As such, 'patriots administering Hong Kong' is an unalterable principle.


“The Election Committee comprises 1,500 members from different sectors and classes of Hong Kong community. It goes beyond the vested interests of specific sectors, specific district and specific groups. The improved electoral system is to enhance the balanced and orderly political participation by the community and ensure broader representation in the political structure of Hong Kong.


“Coupled with the creation of a Candidate Eligibility Review Committee to ensure that candidates comply with the 'patriot' requirement, a new democratic electoral system according to the actual situation of Hong Kong and with Hong Kong characteristics is established.”


The Hong Kong SAR Government also rebuked that the remarks on the National Security Law in the so-called report amounted to fact twisting and political smearing, which were totally groundless and could not be further from the truth.


After the implementation of the National Security Law, Hong Kong residents continue to enjoy various rights and freedoms, including the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of movement, academic freedom, and enjoyment of cultural rights.


The National People's Congress Standing Committee's interpretation on the National Security Law did not confer additional power on the Chief Executive and only clarified that Article 47 of the law is applicable in handling the controversy concerning overseas lawyers.


In addition, the Hong Kong SAR Government strongly objected to the unfounded and false remarks in the so-called report on the law enforcement actions it has taken.


It emphasised that all such actions taken by Hong Kong law enforcement agencies are based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law in respect of the acts of the people or entities concerned, and have nothing to do with their political stance, background or occupation.


Concerning the bail arrangement, the Hong Kong SAR Government said the cardinal importance of safeguarding national security as well as preventing and suppressing acts endangering national security explains why the National Security Law introduces more stringent conditions to the grant of bail in relation to offences endangering national security.


In response to the so-called report's smearing on independent judicial power in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong SAR Government noted that all defendants charged with a criminal offence have the right to and will undergo a fair hearing by the Judiciary as guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.


The courts decide cases strictly in accordance with the evidence and all applicable laws. Cases will never be handled any differently owing to the profession, political beliefs or background of the people involved.


Meanwhile, regarding the presumptuous claims by the US alleging that the Hong Kong SAR Government banned public assembly based on public health concerns, the Hong Kong SAR Government explained that the freedom of assembly and freedom of procession in Hong Kong are fully protected by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, but such freedoms are not absolute or unrestricted.


It said: “In response to COVID-19, similar to the measures adopted by many overseas jurisdictions, the Hong Kong SAR Government had put in place restrictions on group gatherings in public places so as to reduce the risks of spreading in the community, which poses serious threat to lives and health of the public.


“No political considerations had ever come into play. In light of the epidemic development, the relevant restriction had already been withdrawn by the end of 2022.”

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