UK blasted for meddling in HK judiciary

2022-04-01 08:27:32China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The Chinese national flags and flags of the Hong Kong SAR flutter in Hong Kong. (Photo/Xinhua)

Spokesman says playing political card won't deter SAR from attaining stability

Central government officials and Hong Kong legal pundits have hit back at the United Kingdom for trying to unsettle the city's rule of law by pressuring two British judges at Hong Kong's highest court to leave.

The UK Supreme Court announced the withdrawal of all of its serving judges from the HK Court of Final Appeal on Wednesday. Two senior nonpermanent British judges, Robert Reed and Patrick Hodge, announced their resignations the same day.

The United Kingdom's Parliament has alleged that Hong Kong's judicial independence has been affected by the enactment of the National Security Law for Hong Kong. British judges have sat on the Court of Final Appeal since Hong Kong was returned to the motherland in 1997.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said irrespective of what political card the UK plays, it will not stop Hong Kong from progressing from chaos to stability and prosperity.

Since the enactment of the National Security Law, Hong Kong's rule of law has improved and foreign investors' confidence in the city has been reinforced, Wang said.

A statement from the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region urged the UK to accept reality and stop political grandstanding.

"No external intervention can shake the legal foundation in Hong Kong or the confidence of the international community in the rule of law in the city, nor can it hamper the determination of the Chinese side to firmly safeguard 'one country, two systems' and our national security," the statement read.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor expressed her concerns on Thursday about the resignation of the two British judges.

Lam refuted suggestions that the judges' resignations had anything to do with the introduction of the National Security Law for Hong Kong or the exercise of freedom of speech and political freedom in the city.

Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan, a member of the Legislative Council and a lawyer, and Maggie Chan Man-ki, founding president of the Small and Medium Law Firms Association of Hong Kong, both expressed regret over the judges' resignations.

The departures are good examples of foreign interference in the city's affairs, they said, but both added that the resignations will give a boost to Hong Kong's rule of law.

Cheung said the judges' decisions to resign were not in line with their previous duties of upholding the rule of law and independence in exercising judicial powers.

Chan said the resignations will not affect Hong Kong's rule of law, which is jointly established by the nation's Constitution and the city's Basic Law.

The resignations are evidence that they were no longer appropriate nonpermanent judges of the Court of Final Appeal, as they have been subjected to political meddling by the UK Supreme Court, Chan said.

Their departure will help safeguard Hong Kong's rule of law and independent judiciary from foreign political interference, she said.

Chan also said she is opposed to meddling in China's internal affairs through smear campaigns against the promulgation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong.

China is no exception when it comes to the inherent right to safeguard national security, she added.

Senior Counsel Ronny Tong Ka-wah said with or without foreign judges at the city's Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong's judicial system is capable and determined to exercise judicial powers independently and uphold the rule of law, as proven by facts and judgments.

It's baseless to say that the National Security Law for Hong Kong has impaired the independence of the city's judiciary when the Court of Final Appeal has yet to adjudicate any criminal cases under the law with the exception of a bail application, Tong said.


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