Hong Kong must enact Basic Law Article 23 to rein in secession

By Liu Lulu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/2 23:28:39

University of Hong Kong (HKU) law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting has found himself at the center of a political storm for making pro-independence remarks. "We could consider going independent, being part of a federal system or a confederation system similar to that of the European Union," Tai reportedly said at a seminar in Taipei held by the Taiwan Youth Anti-Communist Corps, which immediately invited joint condemnation by 41 lawmakers in Hong Kong.

Tai's provocative comments highlight the urgent need for Hong Kong to enact Article 23 of the Basic Law, which requires the city to enact its own legislation banning any act of treason, secession, sedition or subversion against the central government.

Tai, also a key organizer of the 2014 Occupy Central movement that led to months of road blockades in the name of fighting for greater democracy, has challenged the "one country, two systems" policy, severely violated the Constitution of China and the Basic Law, and jeopardized the interests of the Hong Kong people.

The so-called law professor must not be condoned for his pro-independence remarks and acts. It's imperative that the Hong Kong administration expedite the enactment of Article 23 to deter separatists from further provocation so that China's national security can be better safeguarded.

If time proves that Hong Kong has no intention or capability to enact Article 23, the city should be prepared for the central government, shouldering ultimate responsibility for China's national sovereignty and security, to intervene and take corresponding measures. Under the "one country, two systems" policy, Hong Kong has the right to enact a national security law on its own, but that doesn't mean the central government will keep its hands off if no legal progress is made in this regard.

Tai used "freedom of speech" as an excuse to hit back. "Freedom of speech" is never an excuse to impede Article 23. It's a common international practice to maintain territorial integrity and oppose any act of secession through legislation. The US was one of the earliest nations to pass an anti-secession law. Tai is merely using "freedom of speech" as a tool for his political gimmicks.

To protect Hong Kong from the poison of pro-independence forces, more efforts should be put into reviving national education. Hong Kong students should be taught more about China's history, culture and national condition as education is of vital importance to eradicate pro-independence forces at the root. Tai-like scholars will only mislead young people and drag Hong Kong's development into a vicious circle. We advise HKU to consider Tai's eligibility for teaching at the university.

Newspaper headline: HK must enact Basic Law Article 23 to rein in secession

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