The Hong Kong government has the responsibility to maintain China’s territorial integrity and ensure national security, according to a new draft of the country’s national security law.
The revised draft specifically mentions Hong Kong and its responsibilities in national security, a move that some academics think is Beijing’s way of forcing the city’s government to enact the necessary legislation on the matter, Apple Daily reported on Friday.
The draft was published on Wednesday on the website of the National People’s Congress after a review of the legislation by its Standing Committee last month.
Chinese constitutional scholar Chen Yongmiao said the central government is keen on applying the legislation to Hong Kong since the special administration region has been unable to enact Article 23 of the Basic Law, which deals with security issues.
Renmin University professor Zhang Ming said Hong Kong’s mention in the national security law shows Beijing’s worries about separatism in the city.
Bruce Lui, a senior lecturer at the journalism department of the Hong Kong Baptist University, said the draft, in enacted, will put Hong Kong within the framework set by Beijing as far as national security is concerned, making it impossible for the city to change the definition of national security even with the legislation of Article 23.
Section 11 of Chapter One of the draft states that the “national sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be separated” and “the compatriots of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan have shared the same duties as all Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity”.
Basic Law Committee deputy director Elsie Leung Oi-sie, a former justice secretary, said national security is a matter for the entire country and any place in the country has the responsibility to safeguard national security.
She also said the new law cannot be implemented in Hong Kong until it is introduced into Annex 3 of the Basic law.
Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen said since it is only a draft and the legislative procedure is not yet completed, it is too early to say the national security law must apply to Hong Kong.
As the Basic Law provides procedures for national laws to be applied to Hong Kong, application of the new law can only come after it is added into Annex 3 and consultations are made with the Basic Law Committee, Yuen said.
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