Statement on Article 23 condemned

February 20, 2024

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today said it firmly opposed and strongly condemned a joint statement made by Hong Kong Watch and other organisations on the Basic Law Article 23 legislation.


The Hong Kong SAR Government said the joint statement by Hong Kong Watch and other organisations smacked of deliberate smears and was no further from the truth, adding that it must refute them and set the record straight.


Those organisations completely disregarded relevant laws of the countries in which they are situated and made skewed remarks that its legislative proposals on Article 23 undermined human rights, exposing their sheer hypocrisy and double standards, the Hong Kong SAR Government added.


Regarding the measures concerning enforcement powers, procedural matters and arrangements on the serving of sentences of convicted persons as mentioned in the consultation document on the Basic Law Article 23 legislation, similar provisions are also present in legislation such as the UK’s National Security Act 2023 and the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Act 2020.


It is fully justified for the Hong Kong SAR to put forward measures that could be considered, having regard to the relevant laws of foreign countries as well as the shortcomings as revealed from experiences gained from handling cases concerning offence endangering national security.


The Hong Kong SAR Government also outlined that the remarks on the offences relating to “seditious intention” in the joint statement, which alleged that offences relating to “seditious intention” would criminalise peaceful criticisms against the Government, were clearly wrong and amounted to scaremongering. Such remarks intentionally ignored the consultation document, which proposed circumstances that do not constitute “seditious intention”, it added.


The Hong Kong SAR Government made it clear that making reasonable and genuine criticisms of government polices based on objective facts, pointing out issues or offering views for improvement will not violate offences relating to sedition intention.


Regarding the joint statement’s appeal to foreign chambers of commerce and international companies based in Hong Kong to re-evaluate risks, as well as its request for them to impose so-called "sanctions" on officials handling the Basic Law Article 23 legislation, the Hong Kong SAR Government said it totally disrespected the constitutional duty of the Hong Kong SAR and blatantly trampled on the city’s legislative process.


The Hong Kong SAR Government pointed out that such practice interfered through intimidation in the affairs of Hong Kong that are purely China's internal affairs, which not only violated the international law and basic norms that govern international relations, but also allegedly constituted the offence of "collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security" under Article 29 of the National Security Law.


What the joint statement advocated squarely reflected the ongoing national security threats which anti-China and destabilising forces pose, the Hong Kong SAR Government added. 


It will complete the legislative exercise as early as possible to plug the relevant national security loopholes, and in the process, will listen to the constructive suggestions from various sectors and give full and prudent consideration to the Basic Law as well as the relevant provisions in the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong.

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