Official touts efficacy of HK security law

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The Hong Kong National Security Law serves the best interests of residents of the special administrative region, and offers solid safeguards for people's legitimate rights while helping ensure the city's more open and sustainable development, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Friday.

Delivering a speech at a high-level forum held in both Beijing and Hong Kong on the accurate implementation of the law, Xia said that its enactment in the SAR has restored social order, improved the political climate and brought greater economic vitality and confidence to the city.

Xia hopes Hong Kong can look to the guiding principles of the law to ensure its full and accurate implementation.

The official underlined that the law only focuses on a few who attempt to endanger national security.

For the vast majority of Hong Kong residents, including foreigners living in the city, it has effectively protected their human rights and interests.

A key aspect of the law is that it adopts a dual-track implementation mechanism, through which the Hong Kong SAR holds the major responsibility of safeguarding national security, as mandated by the central government through the law under "one country, two systems", Xia said. The central government, acting as a safety valve, will only handle problems that are beyond the capability of the SAR to manage.

He added that the security law has an overriding effect on the local laws of the HKSAR. Accordingly, the law shall prevail where provisions of Hong Kong's local laws are inconsistent or inapplicable. The HKSAR shall also take the initiative to amend and improve local laws to make them compatible with the National Security Law.

Xia said the law's legislative intent is to endow the HKSAR with the power and responsibility to deal with specific issues concerning the safeguarding of national security. The recent interpretation made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress further clarified the intent and offered a clear path for the SAR to resolve problems occurring in the law's implementation.

In addition to the SAR's Committee for Safeguarding National Security, other administrative organs and all public members are also obliged to protect national security, Xia said. He hopes everyone in Hong Kong can actively engage in the process, which will enable the city to achieve more open and sustainable development.

Friday's forum invited prestigious scholars from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong to share their insights on the future implementation of the law. Two seminars were also held to discuss the constitutional status and legislative intention of law, as well as key issues concerning its application.

After attending the meeting, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said in a social media post that the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR had convened a meeting earlier to actively fulfill its duties. It also vowed to go all out to implement the responsibilities clarified in the recent NPC Standing Committee interpretation.

Lee said the committee supports the government's plans to introduce amendments to the Legal Practitioners Ordinance as soon as possible, so as to handle the matter concerning the participation of overseas lawyers who are not qualified to practice in Hong Kong in cases involving national security issues.

The Hong Kong government will also make efforts to introduce local legislation on Article 23 of the Basic Law as soon as possible.

At a news briefing held during a break in the conference, Tam Yiuchung, a Hong Kong member of the NPC Standing Committee, said that Xia's speech affirmed the importance of the National Security Law to the city and it also offered inspiration for the Hong Kong community to further improve the law's implementation.

Han Dayuan, a law professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing, who is also a member of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee under the NPC Standing Committee, said that Xia's speech reiterated the statutory duties of the HKSAR government in safeguarding national security and made it clear that its power is subject to the supervision of the central government. He believes the remarks will alleviate some residents' concerns about possible abuse of power in this area.

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