In the face of the political turmoil in Hong Kong, some hawkish political figures have recently called on Beijing to invoke the emergency mechanism so as to deploy the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to restore order in the city.
We believe this kind of alarmist rhetoric is provocative and dangerous.
Article 14 of the Basic Law stipulates that “the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be responsible for the maintenance of public order in the region” and “military forces stationed by the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for defense shall not interfere in the local affairs of the region”.
As we can see right from the start, the anti-extradition bill movement has been mainly characterized by clashes between riot police and protesters, with the former having an overwhelming advantage over the latter in terms of equipment, while social stability has remained largely intact.
Since our police are still fully capable of upholding law and order in our city, we just can’t see any justification for deploying the PLA.
On the other hand, Article 18 of the Basic Law also states that “national laws shall not be applied in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region except for those listed in Annex III”.
“In the event that the National People’s Congress Standing Committee decides to declare a state of war or, by reason of turmoil within the HKSAR which endangers national unity or security and is beyond the control of the SAR government, decides that the region is in a state of emergency, the Central People’s Government may issue an order applying the relevant national laws in the region.”
Again, as we can see, mass protests and demonstrations definitely aren’t anywhere near a state of war, nor are they even close to posing any imminent threat to national security or unity.
As such, there is absolutely no need to declare a state of emergency in Hong Kong.
Judging from the current state of law and order in our city, we believe the SAR government still have a firm grip on the situation. Therefore, chances for the administration to ask for the intervention of the PLA are very remote.
We believe any alarmist or provocative rhetoric regarding the deployment of the PLA should be avoided because all it does is fuel social tensions and divisions, not to mention its negative impact on the property market, the investment interests of foreigners and the overall economy.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 29
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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