Hong Kong government suspends Article 23 of security law

Hong Kong’s National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill, Article 23 of the Basic Law, which prompted 500,000 Hong Kongers to take to the streets against the legislation in 2003, was recently withdrawn from order of the legislative day of the Legislative Council of 2022.

This means that the bill will not be submitted to the Legislative Council for registration in the second half of 2022. Some members of the Legislative Council in the pro-Beijing camp expressed disappointment, while others said it was expected because “ the situation is different from before. ”

The researchers said Hong Kong’s economy had deteriorated and the government needed relief (by suspending the bill) from investor concerns, to achieve visible economic improvement in the short term.

Early this January 20, the administration wing, chief secretary of the administration office, submitted the 2022 legislative program to the Legislative Council, which includes 37 major pieces of legislation for deliberation. The National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill was one of them.

However, on October 7, only 16 major bills are submitted. Article 23 of the National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill of the Basic Law of Hong Kong has been deleted.

Opinions within the pro-Beijing camp are very divided

Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, a member of the pro-Beijing Legislative Council, expressed disappointment and criticized the government’s delay. He urged legislative work to move forward as soon as possible. “It’s been 25 years and the legislation couldn’t be completed…why are we still thinking about it and still hesitating?”

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, Chairman of the Executive Council and President of the People’s New Party, said Article 23 was withheld because the relevant policy research had not been completed and the time had not yet come.

Doreen Kong Yuk-foon, a member of the pro-Beijing Legislative Council, said the government wanted to focus on housing issues first and set aside enough time to do a good job of explaining the legislation in Article 23 of the Basic Law in order to reduce conflicts. within society.

Another pro-Beijing Legislative Council member, Lai Tung-kwok, who was a former security secretary, said it is expected that Article 23 of the Basic Law will not be enacted this legislative year. , because the Security Bureau has sent a lot of manpower and During the fifth wave of the pandemic, coupled with the wars around the world recently, the situation is quite different from before. He described the suspension of Section 23 as having “little impact” as there is still Hong Kong’s National Security Law (NSL), as well as other local laws in place.

However, Lai said on September 27 that the priority was to deliver the bill enacting Article 23 of the Basic Law to the Legislative Council as soon as possible, which is part of the Legislative Council’s constitutional responsibilities.

Researcher: Everything related to Hong Kong’s economic failure

Scholar Dr. Chung Kim-wah told The Epoch Times that Hong Kong’s National Security Law (NSL) has been enacted, so the legislation in Article 23 of the Basic Law has no real urgency. .

Regarding the blocking of Article 23 legislation this legislative year, Chung speculated that it is related to the obvious failure of Hong Kong’s economic situation. By doing so, the government wishes to temporarily allay investors’ concerns and hopes to achieve visible economic improvement in the short term.

Chung also recalled the speech given by Chinese leader Xi Jinping when he attended the Hong Kong transfer event in July, and the subsequent video speech by Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member Han Zheng at the Forum. of the Belt and Road. All these speeches showed that the Communist Party (CCP) fears that Hong Kong is continuously losing ground in its status as a financial center. And they hoped that Hong Kong, by retaining this status, could continue to play its role of “white glove (middleman)” for the benefit of the CCP.

In addition, Chung pointed out that the NSL and various sub-laws have already passed the sufficiency level for the government, and Article 23 can be kept as a reservation for now. The regime can wait and see for a better time in the future, it can always reintroduce Article 23 in a much stricter and more generalized way.

The security secretary stressed the urgency of the legislation

Security Secretary Chris Tang Ping-keung pointed out in an exclusive interview with CCP media Wen Wei Po on September 30 that in addition to the NSL, the legislation in Article 23 of the “Basic Law “, in addition to being part of the constitutional responsibility, also has its practical needs. He claimed that the NSL only covers 4 major types of crimes, but Article 23 of the Basic Law has 7, among which 5 items are not yet covered by the NSL. These include treason, sedition, theft of state secrets, involvement of foreign political groups in political activities in Hong Kong, and links between Hong Kong political groups and foreign political organizations.

In addition, when Tang attended a national security briefing conference for officials on September 24, he said that as Western countries continue to recruit agents to spy on Chinese intelligence, there is a need to to have a properly legislated Article 23 of the “Basic Law” to target espionage activities here.

Project withdrawn once in 2003 and blocked ever since

Article 23 of the Basic Law states: Hong Kong “shall enact laws on its own initiative to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or the theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies in the Region from establishing links with foreign political organizations or bodies.

On July 1, 2003, 500,000 Hong Kong citizens took to the streets in the scorching sun to protest the Tung Chee-hwa government’s forced introduction of Article 23 of the Basic Law, fearing it would become a tool to suppress Democrats and opposition. voice. On September 5, 2003, the government announced the withdrawal of the project.

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