Published: 20:17, April 17, 2024 | Updated: 10:52, April 18, 2024
UK’s slanderous remarks on HK reek of double standards
By Fu Kin-chi

In the UK’s six-monthly “report” on Hong Kong released on Monday, the British foreign secretary David Cameron maliciously attacked Hong Kong’s national security regime in total disregard of the facts.

In vilifying Hong Kong’s national security laws, the UK government put politics above the principles of the rule of law and justice, exposing its double standards and hypocrisy, which must be strongly condemned.

By depriving readers of a context for Hong Kong’s national security laws, the UK’s six-monthly “report” tried to glorify those insurrectionists, whom the laws are targeting. In 2019-20, anti-China insurrectionists colluded with foreign forces to launch a Hong Kong version of a “color revolution”, known as the “black-clad” campaign, which misled many young people with inflammatory slogans such as fighting for “democracy”, “freedom” and “rights”, resulting in widespread violence and causing serious trauma to innocent residents.

Fortunately, the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL) has helped to restore peace and order, rectify the situation, and restore the normal functioning of society. The subversive elements have either fled Hong Kong for fear of legal consequences or are lurking in the shadows. But evil cannot triumph over justice. Their days are numbered, and they will eventually face investigation, arrest, and prosecution.

The rule of law, human rights, and judicial independence are core values of Hong Kong, with the human rights of Hong Kong residents protected by the Basic Law. The NSL and the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance (SNSO) clearly stipulate that in safeguarding national security, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s authorities must respect and protect residents’ lawful rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech, press, publication, assembly, procession, demonstration, the principle of no double jeopardy, presumption of innocence, laws that are not retrospective, fair trial, the defendants’ right to defense, and other litigation rights. Specific exclusions and grounds for defense of certain offenses are introduced into the new laws.

Every country establishes national security laws according to its needs to prevent, stop, and punish acts and activities that endanger national security. The SNSO is in line with Hong Kong’s actual needs, international conventions, and standards. It explicitly stipulates that law enforcement agencies must meet legal conditions, strictly follow procedures, accept judicial supervision, and adhere to legal proportionality and necessity principles when enforcing the law. The law will not affect the normal activities of foreign institutions and personnel in Hong Kong, and more importantly, it will boost local and overseas investors’ confidence in the city by creating a stable business environment.

The UK government’s outcry against Hong Kong’s national security regime is based purely on double standards. It ignores the fact that all members of the Five Eyes alliance, including the UK itself, have more national security laws in place than Hong Kong: The United States has at least 21 laws, the United Kingdom at least 14, Australia at least four, Canada at least nine, and New Zealand at least two. Many countries’ national security laws also have extraterritorial effects.

And Western countries like the US and the UK, as well as Singapore, have more stringent and complex national security laws than the SNSO and the NSL.

For example, the US and Singapore can sentence anyone found guilty of treason to death, while Hong Kong’s maximum penalty for this offense is life imprisonment.

The US can also hand down the death penalty to any offender found guilty of espionage offenses, and the UK and Australia can mete out life imprisonment. Hong Kong’s maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment.

The HKSAR government fulfills its constitutional responsibility by enacting the Article 23 legislation. In drafting this law, the government referenced the national security laws of both the Chinese mainland and foreign countries. The law strikes a balance between safeguarding national security and protecting the civil rights and freedoms of residents, meeting the practical needs of Hong Kong, as well as international conventions and standards.

The entire legislative process for the SNSO follows procedural justice. The legislation has garnered strong public support. The law, which came into effect on March 23, has reinforced Hong Kong’s national security regime by enhancing and optimizing the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for national security, ensuring a stable environment for Hong Kong’s socioeconomic development.

The UK has no sovereignty, governance, or oversight over post-handover Hong Kong. Disregarding this fact, the UK government has blatantly interfered in Hong Kong’s affairs, which are China’s internal affairs, in violation of international law and the basic principles governing international relations. Making politically motivated and unjust allegations against the HKSAR, the UK was attempting to disrupt Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, but such efforts are doomed to fail.

The author is a law professor, director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, and vice-president of the Hong Kong Basic Law Education Association.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.