The Chinese national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly above the Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong, China, Aug 5, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region bears no less responsibility than the rest of the nation in safeguarding national security despite having a separate legal system under the principle of "one country, two systems", Deng Zhonghua, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Monday.
The proposed national security legislation for Hong Kong, which aims to close the loophole in the SAR's national security legislation and improve related systems, will help the SAR to guarantee its long-term prosperity and stability, he said at an international seminar on the Basic Law of the HKSAR in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.
The seminar, which marked the 30th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law, was held by the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies. About 200 guests attended the one-day event.
While drafting the law, the National People's Congress, the nation's top legislature, will make clear in the legislation the central government's power to enforce the law in Hong Kong, Deng said.
Though the major responsibility for enforcing the national security law and the prosecution process will be bestowed on the SAR following promulgation of the law, the central government will retain its jurisdiction over some special situations where national security is grossly compromised, he said.
Such special situations will be few, though, Deng added.
A powerful and effective enforcement mechanism is needed in the legislation to deter acts endangering national security, he continued.
The central government will establish national security agencies to oversee national security-related issues and build a coordination mechanism with local national security bodies in intelligence-sharing, he said.
The proposed law, currently being drafted by the Standing Committee of the NPC, aims to outlaw four types of acts-secession, subversion, terrorism and conspiracy with external forces.
Despite differences between the legal and judicial systems of the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, some principles adopted by the criminal law systems on the mainland, which are no different from those in Hong Kong, should be incorporated into the tailor-made law for Hong Kong, Deng said.
These principles include the presumption of innocence and the right of the accused to defend themselves, he added.
Addressing the seminar, Chen Dong, deputy director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, said enactment of the national security law will earn the city stronger support from the central government. That would create broader development prospects for Hong Kong under the "one country, two systems" framework, he said.
In a recorded bilingual video to promote the proposed national security law for Hong Kong on Monday, HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor appeals for the public's full understanding and staunch support for putting national legislation for the SAR into place.
"Hong Kong has become a gaping hole in national security, and our city's prosperity and stability are at risk. Sadly, there is now little hope of the HKSAR enacting local laws to safeguard national security," Lam said.
Protracted street violence over the past year and interference from external forces in Hong Kong affairs have left the central government no option but to exercise its constitutional power to improve the city's legal system and safeguard national security, she said.
Wang Zhenmin, director of the Center for Hong Kong and Macao Research and head of the National Governance Institute at Tsinghua University, said that on issues related to national security, the region should adopt a one-for-all principle or system, just like in the United States and the United Kingdom.
"Though we are entitled to apply that principle in the case of Hong Kong by simply applying the national security law adopted on the mainland, we chose not to. Tailoring a national security law for Hong Kong is the most moderate and fundamental way to protect national security in Hong Kong," Wang said.
The proposed national security law is not meant to revise the Basic Law, but to address the issues the latter has yet to resolve or provide an explicit provision for. The rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, conferred by the Basic Law, will remain unchanged, Wang said.
Several foreign law experts, from countries including Russia, the UK, Germany and Spain, also weighed in by sharing their experience on protecting national security in their countries. They shared how the federal or central authorities have powers to prevent acts endangering national security in their countries.