Hong Kong should temporarily adopt China’s National Security Law until the city puts in place the relevant legislation as required by Article 23 of the Basic Law, a mainland academic and a Basic Law Committee member has suggested, fueling sharp criticism in the territory.
Rao Geping, Hong Kong Basic Law Committee member of National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee and a professor at Peking University, said in an interview with a pro-Beijing magazine that Basic Law Article 23, which requires Hong Kong to set up national security rules, has been demonized for a long time, causing difficulties. The city should accelerate the legislation, he said, terming it as a responsibility.
Before full security legislation is established in Hong Kong, the city can either adopt the National Security Law or some new rules proposed by the central government, said Rao, who is said to represent Chinese leaders’ view. The absence of these rules has, over the last few years, led to many court cases that saw the central government’s authority being questioned, he told Bauhinia magazine.
Hong Kong Legco Council chairman Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said he is surprised by Rao’s suggestion. He said it is not appropriate to apply the mainland’s law in Hong Kong. Alan Leong Kah-kit, a Civic Party lawmaker, said Rao’s suggestion is groundless and will undermine the ‘One Country Two Systems’ principle.
The Basic Law Article 23 is one of the most sensitive issues in Hong Kong, with the proposal for a national security law prompting half a million people to take to the streets in a protest march on July 1, 2003. The Hong Kong government finally withdrew the proposed due to lack of political support from the Liberal Party.
Although local officials repeatedly said that there is no urgent need to launch the law again, the chance that the central government may continue to make moves to tighten the freedom of press, speech and assembly in the city cannot be ruled out, observers said.
Last month, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a government report during the opening of China’s annual parliament session that the central government will continue to support the implementation of ‘One Country Two Systems’ in Hong Kong. However, he did not mention the guidelines of ‘Hong Kong Ruled by Hong Kong People’ and ‘High Degree of Autonomy’.
Some Hong Kong people are worried that the central government will increasingly intervene in Hong Kong’s administration and undermine the city’s status as an international financial hub. Rao’s latest suggestion will inevitably create more uncertainties in the relationship between Hong Kong and the central government, observers say.
China CPI trend seen ruling out deflation this year
China’s consumer price index (CPI) trend rules out the possibility of China falling into deflation this year, the People’s Daily said Monday, citing a report by the State Information Center. The center expects the annual CPI this year to rise 2.5 percent, compared with the government’s 3.5 percent target. Deflation is defined as a year-on-year CPI growth of less than 1 percent for six consecutive months, according to the newspaper. The center based its forecast on the country’s slowing economy, production overcapacity, bumper crop harvests and ample stock of live hogs. Meanwhile, Bank of Communications Co. Ltd. (03328.HK, 601328.CN) said the CPI is expected to have risen between 2.4 and 2.6 percent in March, compared with 2 percent a month earlier. CPI growth is forecast to be lower than 2.5 percent for the first quarter and 2.6 percent for the whole year.
Sabah kidnap victim’s family gets phone call
A phone call has been made to the family of Chinese tourist Gao Huan Yuan who was seized along with a Filipina hotel worker in Semporna, Sabah, Wednesday last week, New Straits Times reported Sunday, citing director general Datuk Mohammad Mentek of the Eastern Sabah Security Command. “The call was made by a representative of the gunmen who informed the family that the victims are safe,” Mohammad was quoted as saying. “However, as far as I know, no demand has been made.” On April 2, around 10:30 pm, seven gunmen grabbed the two victims at the Singamata Adventures and Reef Resort before fleeing by boat to Philippine waters, the report said. The kidnappers were believed to have proceeded to Jolo island in Southern Philippines.
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