Macao updates national security law
Move will prevent, curb foreign interference to ensure continuous prosperity of SAR
Published: May 19, 2023 01:00 AM
Tourist in Macao Special Administrative Region in September of 2022  Photo: IC

Tourist in Macao Special Administrative Region in September of 2022 Photo: IC

China's Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) on Thursday deliberated on and passed an amendment to the Law on Safeguarding National Security, which is believed to prevent and curb foreign interference in order to safeguard Chinese national security and ensure the continuous prosperity of the SAR.

The overall security of the country is facing more severe challenges. Amending the Law on Safeguarding National Security is a necessary move for the SAR, which will play an important role in timely and effectively responding to overall security risks and threats, and further improving the One Country, Two Systems so as to better coordinate and safeguard the security and development of the country and Macao society, the Macao SAR government said on Thursday in a statement.

Experts said that the amendment greatly enhances the law's scope, status and role in the entire Macao legal system under the One Country, Two Systems principle, pointing out that Macao's experience can also be a lesson for Hong Kong, especially in completing the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law.

The amended national security law will be elevated to the foundation, backbone and core law of Macao's legal system for safeguarding national security, thus allowing the SAR government to enhance its ability to manage and maintain national security affairs in a comprehensive manner, the SAR said.

The law is expected to effectively prevent and curb foreign interference, effectively safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, and ensure the continued prosperity and stability of Macao society.

The practices in Hong Kong and Macao since their return to the motherland fully prove that the unremitting construction of institutional mechanisms is a must to safeguard national security in the SARs, said the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council in a statement on Thursday night.

As the international environment is becoming increasingly complex, the Hong Kong and Macao SARs face new challenges in safeguarding national security, said the office in the statement. Only through enhancing the hardship mentality, adhering to the bottom line thinking, and keeping building a solid institutional defense can the practice of One Country, Two Systems be stable and far-reaching.

"As this amendment has made an expanded construction of the legal system, it gives Macao's national security law the formal characteristics of a general law," Tian Feilong, a Hong Kong-Macao-Taiwan affairs expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"Compared with its previous status as a special enactment, its scope, status and role in the whole Macao legal system have been greatly enhanced under One Country, Two Systems," he said. 

Tian pointed out that the national security law in Macao, enacted in 2009, has lagged behind in the new era, and the amendment of the law has made corresponding updates, as Hong Kong has improved its national security law under One Country, Two Systems.

"On the one hand, the experience of Hong Kong's legislation and the legal means to maintain national security served as a reference and inspiration to Macao," Tian said. 

"On the other hand, Macao is doing this based on its own legal system and characteristics, in order to meet the needs of law enforcement and justice in Macao to maintain national security."

According to local media reports, the amendment involves several major improvements to the law, including expanding the scope of criminal means on endangering national security, making abetting and supporting insurrection separate crimes, and making preparatory crimes punishable across the board.

"By making abetting and preparatory crimes a separate crime, the city can prevent acts and activities that endanger national security in advance," he said, noting that this will improve the level and standard of the legal system of national security in Macao.

The amendment will help prevent the infiltration of Taiwan secessionist forces into Macao and acts of espionage that endanger national security, observers noted.

Macao's Legislative Assembly passed an amendment to the national security law in December 2022. Although the two amendments were close in timing, they had completely different priorities, according to the expert.

He also pointed out that Macao's experience in amending the national security law can provide a lesson to Hong Kong, especially in the process of completing the much-anticipated legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law.