Home China No Compromise On National Security, Says Hong Kong’s Top Leader

No Compromise On National Security, Says Hong Kong’s Top Leader

China, Hong Kong
People stand in front of a screen showing the Chinese and the Hong Kong flags during the National Security Education Day opening ceremony in Hong Kong, China April 15, 2024. REUTERS/Lam Yik

China‘s leading authority on Hong Kong affairs emphasised that the city must firmly adhere to national security principles to protect its development. This statement was made in a speech a few weeks following the introduction of comprehensive new security legislation.

“To move towards governance and prosperity, we need to tightly hold onto the bottom line of national security in order to safeguard the high quality development of Hong Kong,” said the director of Beijing’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Xia Baolong, in a speech to mark an annual national security day.

In March, Hong Kong implemented a new national security law, referred to as article 23, which updated or introduced legislation banning treason, sabotage, sedition, stealing state secrets, and espionage. Violations of these laws can result in prison sentences up to life.

Xia emphasised that the new law does not pose a threat to investors, despite the city facing Western criticism over a prolonged crackdown on dissent and experiencing economic and financial difficulties.

“For the general public of Hong Kong and foreign investors, this law is the protector of their rights, freedoms, property and investment,” Xia said.

“Investors from all over the world can come to Hong Kong to invest in new businesses bravely and without concerns,” he added. “Hong Kong remains the best place in the world to do business and make money and achieve your dreams.”

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

Some foreign governments including the United States and Britain, however, have criticised the new law as a fresh tool for authorities to clamp down on dissent. The legislation adds to another national security law China directly imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 in response to mass pro-democracy protests.

Beijing, however, says the laws are necessary to safeguard the city’s stability and prosperity.

The U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong said on Saturday that visitors to the city should “exercise increased caution” with the State Department updating its travel advisory given the new national security legislation.

Canada also updated its advisory recently, saying people needed to “exercise a high degree of caution in Hong Kong due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws”.

The security laws in Hong Kong have led to the imprisonment of numerous prominent democrats, such as Joshua Wong, and the closure of liberal media outlets and civil society groups. Under the national security law imposed by Beijing, over 290 individuals have been arrested. Among those, 174 people and five companies have been charged, including well-known critic of China and businessman Jimmy Lai, who is now on trial and potentially faces life imprisonment.

With Inputs from Reuters