China hits back at West's 'double-standards' smear against Article 23

2024-03-21 09:02:43Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The central government and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government vigorously repudiated on Wednesday the smear and slander campaigns launched by some Western governments, institutions and politicians against the unanimous passage of the Article 23 legislation in the Legislative Council (LegCo) of the HKSAR, saying that slandering the highly anticipated law while turning a blind to the fact that many Western countries have enacted multiple national security laws is a typical example of political hegemony and double standards.

At least three central government's organs, including China's Foreign Ministry, the Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in the HKSAR, the Chinese Embassy in the UK, along with the HKSAR government and Hong Kong Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung voiced strong dissatisfaction and opposition on Wednesday against the latest remarks from Western politicians on the Article 23 legislation.

In response to comments made by countries such as the U.S., the UK, Japan and the EU bloc, Lin Jian, spokesperson of China's Foreign Ministry, said "We strongly deplore and firmly oppose individual countries and organizations' slandering and smear against the law."

The LegCo unanimously voted in favor of the passage of the bill, which further implements the SAR's constitutional responsibility of safeguarding national security, further cements the security foundation for Hong Kong's development and serves as a landmark in advancing the cause of One Country, Two Systems on our new journey in the new era, Lin noted.

On Tuesday, 89 lawmakers, after marathon meetings, passed the legislation in a unanimous vote. Lacking the law has been seen as predicament that has plagued Hong Kong for 26 years. Local lawmakers and officials described the passage as a historic moment for Hong Kong and they were proud of witnessing the moment.

Disregarding the overwhelming support in Hong Kong society for the law, some Western officials could not wait to "throw mud" at it, which is seen by some observers as similar tactics they used some four years ago to attack the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron issued a statement following the passage of the law, claiming that the Article 23 legislation was "rushed through the legislative process and will damage the rule of law, autonomy, and the rights and freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong."

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said the bill could accelerate the closing of a once open society and it was analyzing the potential risks to U.S. citizens and American interests, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

The High Representative on behalf of the EU also expressed their "concerns" over the legislation, according to a statement on its website.

Those remarks reflect a "sour grapes" mentality among some Western countries, Louis Chen, a member of the Election Committee and general secretary of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"Particularly, those politicians see that Hong Kong is closing the loopholes in national security, making it difficult for them to use the city as an entry point for subversive activities against the Chinese mainland," Chen said, noting that the more the West smears and attacks the legislation, the more it proves the urgency and necessity of it.

Rebut Western attacks

The whole legislative process of the LegCo was carried out in accordance with the procedures, including its deliberation, with lawmakers carefully reviewing the draft bill of the law, entitled the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, the HKSAR government said on Wednesday. It went through 25 meetings with nearly 50 hours of detailed deliberation during which lawmakers raised nearly 1,000 questions and comments, leading to 91 amendments.

"There won't be many doubts about the legislation from the outside world because it merely aims to prevent acts that endanger national security and to stop such situations from arising," Tam Yiu-chung, a vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Tam noted that having heard the business community's opinions, they share the same view that there is no need to worry about national security issues after the legislation. Regarding the opposition from Western countries to the law, Tam said the legislative review process was unaffected by smearing and intimidation, believing that unity and confidence can overcome difficulties.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a lawmaker from the New People's Party was quoted as saying in local media reports that she is not afraid of potential sanctions imposed by some Western countries because of the passage of the law. After the implementation of the law, the city will be safer, and Ip said she cannot see why foreign countries should increase their travel advisories because of that.

Western attacks on the Article 23 legislation were expected, and it does not rule out the possibility of sanctions being imposed on Hong Kong officials, Lau Siu-kai, a consultant from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies who is also a senior policy advisor, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Lau believes that sanctions, however, will not target the Hong Kong financial market, as doing so would damage U.S. trade, its economy and the status of the U.S. dollar.

As Article 23 is legislated by Hong Kong itself, in contrast to the NSL for Hong Kong, which was passed by the country's top legislature, Lau said that even if Western countries impose sanctions, their intensity will not be greater than during the implementation of the NSL for Hong Kong.

Double standards displayed

The Law Society of Hong Kong said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday that it supports and welcomes the passage of the legislation, and it firmly believes that with Hong Kong's robust rule of law and independent judicial system, an appropriate balance can be struck between safeguarding national security and upholding fundamental human rights in the implementation of the legislation.

The ordinance is clear and precise, leaving no room for unjustified arguments, Chu Kar-kin, a veteran commentator based in the HKSAR and member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday. The allegations from the West are groundless and subjective, as their laws are never superior or binding to other jurisdictions, he said.

In fact, the Article 23 legislation has taken at least six countries' national security-related laws as references during the legislative process including 16 laws from the UK like the National Security Act 2023.

The definitions of crimes within the ordinance are clearer than those in the UK's National Security Act 2023, Tang, the city's Secretary for Security, noted on Wednesday. Cameron ignoring the vagueness of his own country's legislation while making unreasonable criticisms of the Article 23 legislation displays hypocritical double standards, Tang said.

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