US criticism of Article 23 rejected

February 29, 2024

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Government strongly disapproved of and rejected the biased and misleading remarks made by the US government about Basic Law Article 23 legislation.


In a statement, the Hong Kong SAR Government stressed that the US should immediately stop making irresponsible remarks on such legislation and interfering in Hong Kong affairs which are internal affairs of China.


The statement pointed out that the US was found conducting long-term covert surveillance around the world and even against the governments of multiple countries, adding that a former US national security advisor even publicly admitted that he helped plan coups in foreign countries.


The Hong Kong SAR Government said it is simply unconvincing for the US government to comment at this juncture on the Hong Kong SAR's legislative proposals for safeguarding national security, especially those on offences relating to “state secrets” and “external interference”.


The statement made it clear that the practice of providing for proportionate extraterritorial effect for offences endangering national security fully aligns with the principles of international law, international practice and common practice adopted in various countries and regions.


It further underscored that the national security laws of the US and many other countries have extraterritorial effect. A lack of extraterritorial effect in the relevant laws in safeguarding national security is tantamount to condoning activities endangering national security carried out by ill-intentioned people overseas. Therefore, extraterritorial effect is an essential component of national security laws.


The statement also noted that the US even often abuses “long-arm jurisdiction” and unilateral sanctions to target residents of other countries, adding that the US government’s smears on the extraterritorial effect of Article 23 legislation are simply untenable.


The Hong Kong SAR Government said it has pointed out publicly time and again that the proposed offences relating to “state secrets” and “external interference” have multiple conditions. It is necessary to meet all the relevant conditions concurrently before the offence concerned is committed, and hence it is impossible for anyone to violate the law unwittingly.


In formulating the relevant offences and drafting the bill, the Hong Kong SAR Government will target acts endangering national security with precision and ensure that the elements and penalties of the relevant offences are defined with clarity, the statement highlighted.


Additionally, it underlined that the Hong Kong SAR law enforcement agencies have been taking law enforcement actions, including arrest and detention, based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law in respect of the acts of the persons or organisations concerned, and have nothing to do with the background or political stance of the person or organisation.


The Hong Kong SAR Government emphasised that the top priority of the principle of “one country, two systems” is to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.


Furthermore, it stressed that to legislate on Article 23 is precisely for safeguarding national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, as well as ensuring the full and faithful implementation of the principle of “one country, two systems” under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy.


It will also better safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of the residents of the Hong Kong SAR and other people in the city, the Hong Kong SAR Government added.

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