Date
23 March 2017
Some activists fear they will be prosecuted under the new national security law for their actions or statements in Hong Kong if they enter the mainland. Photo: Reuters
Some activists fear they will be prosecuted under the new national security law for their actions or statements in Hong Kong if they enter the mainland. Photo: Reuters

Leung: No plan to legislate Article 23

Hong Kong won’t be getting its own national security law soon, after the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee passed a new one for China on Wednesday.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said later in the day his administration has no plan to enact the provisions in Article 23 of the Basic Law, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.

Hong Kong appears in two clauses in the new security law.

Article 11 states: “Defending national sovereignty, unity and territorial completeness is the duty of all Chinese people, including those in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.”

Article 40 says Hong Kong and Macau should fulfill their responsibility to defend national security.

Zheng Shuna, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said at a briefing in Beijing that Hong Kong has the responsibility to protect national security and that it is consistent with the constitution and the Basic law to mention Hong Kong in the new security law.

But she said the national security law is not one of the national laws listed in Annex III of the Basic Law and therefore does not apply directly to Hong Kong.

Zheng said Article 23 of the Basic Law provides for Hong Kong’s government to enact a law of its own accord to safeguard national security.

She did not comment on whether taking part in events like the annual June 4 vigil would violate the new law.

Article 23 of the Basic Law requires Hong Kong to implement laws against treason, secession and subversion. An attempt to enact the controversial legislation was scrapped in 2003.

Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a deputy to the NPC from Hong Kong, has called for legislation of Article 23 as soon as possible, because, he says, it is an unshirkable duty for the administration.

On Wednesday, Leung said Hong Kong is indisputably part of China and has the responsibility and obligation to protect the security of the country.

However, he said, that is a matter for local legislation in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law, and the incumbent government has no intention to move forward with that.

Leung’s words failed to calm fears in some quarters that the new national security law will have implications for Hongkongers, such as limiting the freedom of speech they now enjoy.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association, the International Federation of Journalists and the Independent Commentators Association called in a joint statement for the administration to seek clarification on whether opinions expressed in the city could lead to prosecution in the mainland.

They said naming Hong Kong in the national law threatens the principle of “one country two systems.”

An unnamed person close to Beijing was quoted by Sing Tao Daily as saying those who have been calling for independence for Hong Kong or the end of one-party rule in China could probably be convicted under the new security law once they enter the mainland.

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TL/AC/FL

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