On 28 May, the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) of the People’s Republic of China passed the “Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal Systems and Implementation Mechanisms for Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” with an overwhelming majority of votes. It is in accordance with the trend of history, and it is what the greater national interests entail and what all Chinese people aspire for. The Decision, which is of great significance and far-reaching influence, fully reflects the central government’s strong will and firm determination to safeguard national security and demonstrates the resolute defense of and utmost care for the overall interests of Hong Kong and the fundamental well-being of Hong Kong compatriots.
To safeguard national security is an essential part of the “one country, two systems” principle. Without national security, there will be neither lasting peace and stability for China nor long-term prosperity and stability for Hong Kong. “One country, two systems” will also lose its very foundation. At a time when national security in Hong Kong SAR faces a real threat and gets seriously undermined, and when it becomes clear that the SAR government can hardly complete the required legislation by itself, the NPC has no choice but to come forward and act decisively at the State level to establish and improve a legal framework and enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. It is a timely and necessary move to plug the legal loopholes and put in place the relevant enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong. The Decision makes every sense and can stand up to scrutiny.
In all countries, unitary and federal alike, only the State legislature has the legislative power on issues concerning national security. Article 23 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR is a special arrangement made pursuant to “one country, two systems”. It does not change the fact that only the State legislature has the legislative power on issues concerning national security. The central government has the primary and ultimate responsibility for national security in all its administrative regions. It also enjoys and exercises all necessary power accordingly. This is the basic theory and principle of national sovereignty, and an established practice followed by countries in the world.
According to China’s Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR, safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests is the shared responsibility and statutory obligation of all Chinese, Hong Kong compatriots included. National security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR aims to deter and punish the few “Hong Kong independence” elements and perpetrators of violence seeking to endanger national security. It will serve to protect the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Hong Kong residents. The NPC decision is an example of the rule-of-law principle. It is made for Hong Kong residents to better enjoy and exercise their statutory rights and freedoms.
Over the past week, people of all sectors in Macao have expressed firm support and spoke highly of the decision of the NPC. They are proud of the prosperity and stability in Macao, and believe that the hard-won situation deserves to be cherished. Some foreign nationals residing in Macao pointed out that the legislation move by the NPC is a strong response to the repeated challenges to the bottom line of the rule-of-law in the Hong Kong SAR. These all demonstrate that the legislation is what people long for.
Since Macao’s return to the motherland, people in Macao have wholeheartedly supported the “one country, two systems” principle, recognizing it as the best institutional arrangement to ensure Macao’s long-term prosperity and stability. It has become the consensus of the entire society that safeguarding national security is an important and fundamental prerequisite to guarantee its stability and development. As a city of frequent exchanges with the world and an international free port highly dependent on the outside, Macao has been consolidating the foundations of “one country” and at the same time enjoying the benefits of “two systems”. Macao is now one of the world’s safest cities. Its social stability and harmony provides crucial guarantee for its steady progress made in building the region into “a world tourism and leisure center, a commercial and trade cooperation service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and a base for exchange and cooperation where Chinese culture is the mainstream and diverse cultures coexist”. Macao’s image of an open and free international city, its leapfrog economic development and sustained rise of people’s living standards are guaranteed as well.
Hong Kong, under the “one country, two systems” practice, enjoys the backing of the motherland and is fully open to the world. It therefore has many favorable conditions for development and distinctive competitive advantages. In particular, China’s continuous and rapid development over the past 4 decades since the reform and opening-up provides an invaluable opportunity, an inexhaustible source of strength and broad space for Hong Kong’s development. As long as we adhere to the “one country” principle and respect the differences of the “two systems”, both uphold the overall jurisdiction of the central government over Hong Kong SAR and ensure a high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong, both give play to the role of the mainland as a staunch supporter of Hong Kong and enhance Hong Kong’s own competitiveness, lay a solid foundation for national security, maintain social stability and harmony, focus on development and consolidate Hong Kong’s status as an international financial, shipping and trading center, Hong Kong will have a better future!
Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China
in the Macao SAR