Central govt ready for any situation; separatists plan illegal assembly

By Yang Sheng, Chen Qingqing and Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/26 22:15:05 Last Updated: 2020/5/27 0:05:54

‘No more fantasy’ as long standing problem in HK must be solved: experts

A group of Hong Kong residents show their support on Tuesday in Wan Chai for the upcoming national security law, which was announced by the 13th National People's Congress on Thursday in Beijing, aimed at ending months-long riots across the city. Photo: Courtesy of Nicholas Muk

Central government authorities, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR) government reiterated their strong support and unshakable will for the new national security law for Hong Kong late Monday and Tuesday, showing that the law is imperative and non-negotiable, and warned the radical forces should not underestimate the determination of the central government, while anti-government and separatist forces are planning illegal protests and an assembly on Wednesday.

The bottom-line is clear: the central government won't tolerate any act of secessionism, subversion, foreign interference and terrorism, officials and observers said, claiming that any force - either in Hong Kong or overseas - needs to abandon the delusion of challenging the legitimacy of the law, collective will of top-down authorities and sovereignty issue as China's top priority.

Violent radical activities in Hong Kong that harm China's national security will come to an end gradually with the progress of the national security legislation. But before the legislation is finalized, resistance from extremists, rioters and foreign forces will be more intense and frequent. So, the pressure on the central government and the HKSAR will remain heavy, analysts said.

The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR said in a statement posted on its website Monday night criticized the illegal assembly organized by separatists and radical violent rioters on Sunday, which caused serious injuries, including to a female passer-by and a lawyer who tried to stop the rioters from placing an illegal roadblock to interrupt traffic, as well as four police officers.

"Many signs indicated that a group of extremists is planning larger illegal violent activities, and will vainly attempt to make the whole city 'burn with them.' We sternly warn these people and the forces behind them: do not underestimate the determination of the central government," the statement said. 

The central government "has been fully prepared to handle any complicated situation, and if these people insist on their acts arbitrarily, the only thing they will get is legal sanction!" the liaison office said.

Hong Kong residents sign their names on Friday in support of the Hong Kong national security law. A draft decision of the law was submitted to China's top legislature on Friday. Photo: cnsphoto

No more fantasy

The Chinese PLA Hong Kong Garrison firmly supports the draft decision to introduce national security legislation for the HKSAR and the garrison has the determination, confidence and capability to safeguard national sovereignty, security, development interests and long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, said Chen Daoxiang, the commander of the PLA garrison and a Chinese lawmaker, in an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said at her weekly news briefing on Tuesday that the constitutional foundation of the national security law to be implemented in Hong Kong is solid and firm and not in violation of the region's Basic Law.

The national security legislation will greatly encourage law enforcement forces in the city, as well as patriotic and pro-establishment groups, because they see the central government playing a responsible role to firmly stay with them, and showing no mercy to fight hostile forces that could harm Hong Kong, said Tian Feilong, a Hong Kong affairs expert and associate professor at Beihang University in Beijing.

"The protesters with more rational ideas, the centrists and double-dealers who used to show sympathy to the extremist forces will have to choose sides when it comes to national security: stand with the illegal forces to face the punishment or respect and protect national security. There is no space for them to fantasize," Tian said.

Li Xiaobing, a Hong Kong studies expert at Nankai University in Tianjin, said that "the central government has already showed its sincerity, patience and trust to the city's political forces in the past 22-23 years since the city returned to China from UK colonial rule, but the ongoing turmoil started last year has broken the limits of patience of the whole country, as well as the bottom line of national security." 

"So now, the central government believes there is no reason to keep tolerance. Nothing can stop the country from eliminating national security threats in the city despite some resistance. The country will and must solve the long-standing problem this time. Otherwise, the legislation would be meaningless," Li noted.

The central government has the legal authority and responsibility to enact a national security law anytime, and even if Hong Kong finishes enacting Article 23 of the Basic Law, the central government could still enact a new national security law, Elsie Leung Oi-sie, deputy director of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee of the Standing Committee of the NPC and former Secretary of Justice, told the Global Times on Tuesday, in rebuking the questions raised by the Hong Kong Bar Association on the central government's legal authority in this case. 

Hong Kong has the constitutional responsibility to safeguard national security. Since Article 23 of the Basic Law was set 30 years ago, the major considerations concerning national security were based on some traditional behaviors endangering the security, Leung said, noting that after 30 years, there have been new situations in and out of Hong Kong, which require relevant laws to deal with. 

The current situation in Hong Kong is that without setting up a comprehensive mechanism to safeguard national security, the city has no future, the former official said, noting that the local economy and social governance face a huge crisis. "We'll do the right thing, no matter how much it costs. What we could do is minimize the harm," she noted.

Hong Kong police show rioters damaging a restaurant at a press briefing on Dec. 16, 2019 in Hong Kong, south China. (Xinhua)

Smaller, more violent resistance

On Wednesday, the South China Morning Post reported the rioters plan to launch illegal activities again to disrupt the Legislative Council's (LegCo) second reading of the national anthem bill. The Hong Kong Police will deploy 3,000 officers and water cannons at the LegCo and the central government liaison office to prevent rioters from paralyzing traffic in an attempt to disrupt the debate of the legislature.

The Hong Kong Police told the Global Times in an email on Tuesday that the police is paying high attention to the online organization for inciting illegal assemblies, and the police "will show no tolerance to illegal activities," and will deploy based on the analysis of the latest situation.

The strict and firm law enforcement by the Hong Kong Police showed the deterrent power the national security legislation brought to the lawbreakers, observers said.

Some Hong Kong-based observers said that compared to the illegal violent activities last year, the radical protesters have no new tactics, so the police and Hong Kong society won't be surprised, as they would just break and burn public facilities like traffic lights and subway stations, block roads to paralyze traffic, and attack ordinary residents who disagree with them and throw Molotov cocktails at the police. The scale of the activities is also getting smaller. 

Victor Chan, 34, a Hong Kong resident and vice chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Young Commentators, told the Global Times that "due to the months-long and ongoing harmful activities against public facilities, ordinary residents and normal economic activities, the opposition groups and extremists are losing public support, and the rioters and separatists are getting more and more isolated."

"On the contrary, the pro-establishment forces had a better performance in handling the COVID-19 pandemic by providing medical supplies to the residents, and they also have better and a more rational argument on the national security law. The patriotic and pro-establishment camp is now recovering," Chan noted.

Tian said although the rioters might be unable to hold massive protests as big as last year, they will try more violent and intense actions to increase the pressure on law-enforcement. Before the national security legislation is finalized, the Hong Kong Police will still need to fight these "evil forces" in frequent illegal activities. 

External support useless

On external pressure, China-US relations are bad enough, and there will be no optimistic expectations on the US, so China should care less about what the US will do to keep its interference in the HKSAR and conduct long-arm jurisdiction to interrupt China's legislation, Tian said. 

"Compared to safeguarding the peace and stability of Hong Kong, the nonsense intimidation from the US is far less important," Li noted.

Dozens of people gathered at the International Finance Centre in Hong Kong on Monday night to protest against the national anthem bill, with some holding secessionist banners and shouting slogans calling for "Hong Kong independence." Some people held sign asking US troops to "land in" Hong Kong to "protect" its people, Hong Kong-based news portal website on.cc reported.

Netizens from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region slammed the protesters as "disgraceful" for inviting foreign forces to interfere in China's internal affairs, and many also mocked them for "seeking US help but not even getting their English grammar correct" in their slogans. 

Tian said "this hilarious and ignorant behavior shows that the separatists in the city have no idea how the US abandoned its overseas proxies, and there is no reason for Americans to die for their puppets."

These ignorant separatists will be disappointed and fall into desperation, and will face legal consequences eventually, Tian said. "This would summarize their hilarious and pointless lives."

Newspaper headline: Central govt ready for any situation


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