Top HK official vows to advance Article 23 legislation at full speed

2024-02-20 15:01:35Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

As the public consultation period for the legislation of the Article 23 will end in the coming week, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive John Lee said on Tuesday that the majority of opinions support the legislation, and the legislation process should be pushed forward at full speed.

"We can do it one day earlier, we should do it one day early," Lee told reporters before the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday.

When asked about the Legislative Council (LegCo)'s schedule, which indicates that the earliest date the session will convene is after the national two sessions in early March, meaning it would be on the March 13, and whether there is confidence that the blue paper draft of Article 23 will be introduced next month, or even undergo its first reading on March 13, Lee said that efforts will be made to expedite the work on the Article 23 legislation, adding that the LegCo will also fulfill its constitutional responsibilities as soon as possible.

Both the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong and the decision made by the National People's Congress on May 28, 2020 emphasize the need for the HKSAR to complete the legislation of Article 23 as soon as possible, Lee said.

This also includes the role of the LegCo in the legal system of the HKSAR, he said, noting that he has high expectations for the LegCo and he hopes that it will fulfill its relevant responsibilities as soon as possible. He also respects the LegCo's deliberative process and believes that it will conscientiously perform its duties.

Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, will embark on his second fact-finding mission to the city in a year starting on Thursday and intends to solicit views on proposed Article 23, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Tuesday.

The Article 23 legislation was also on the agenda of the central government's top official overseeing Hong Kong affairs as Xia "was ready" to assess the latest situation and concerns in society, the SCMP said, citing an insider.

The consultation period for the Article 23 legislation will end on February 28, according to the HKSAR government.

The new law, proposed to be entitled as the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, aims to comprehensively address national security risks and will play a complementary role to the NSL for Hong Kong.

In response to the media reports about Xia's trip, Lee said that central government officials care about and pay attention to Hong Kong.

If there are any public activities involving officials from the HKSAR, the (HKSAR) government will make necessary announcements, he said.

"This is a law that safeguards our own security. If no one bothers us, this law simply doesn't apply, much like a person needing a solid door and a reliable lock to prevent someone from breaking into their home," Lee told reporters.

If they merely pass by the doorway, everyone remains unharmed. Therefore, the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law ensures that every person in Hong Kong can live safely and normally, and it ensures that we have sufficient legal means to protect ourselves against those who seek to harm us, he said.

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