Western criticism over National Security Law for Hong Kong 'ridiculous, shameless'
Published: Jan 24, 2024 09:20 PM Updated: Jan 25, 2024 12:01 AM
Hong Kong file photo

Hong Kong file photo

Hong Kong officials, legal experts and policy advisors refuted remarks made about Hong Kong by some Western countries and experts at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) meeting in Geneva, saying that some unfounded and untrue remarks about the Special Administrative Region stem from misconceptions and a lack of understanding about what was happening in the city. 

The UK, the US and several other countries criticized China's human rights record on Tuesday, and some countries like the UK recommended that the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong should be repealed, as well as calling for the prosecution against the anti-China rioter Jimmy Lai to be dropped, according to media reports. 

All these Western nations have their own draconian national security laws to protect their security. It is ridiculous and hypocritical for them to criticize the far more moderate NSL for Hong Kong, some Hong Kong experts said. 

Additionally, the human rights records of these countries is far from impressive. It is thus shocking to see them manifesting the audacity to find fault with Hong Kong, they said, noting that those attacks on Hong Kong are "vacuous, sinister, and shameless and will not have much impact beyond the UNHRC." 

"Many issues regarding Hong Kong have been raised mainly due to a lack of understanding of our sentiment. No country will stand idly by when it comes to acts and activities that endanger national security. For those questioning the necessity of enacting relevant laws, let me take you back to 2019, the darkest period in Hong Kong's history," Chief Secretary for Administration Eric Chan Kwok-ki said at a meeting of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group of the UNHRC in Geneva on Tuesday. 

At that time, our streets witnessed unprecedented violence and random attacks. Rioters hurled thousands of petrol bombs, destroyed public facilities, severely disrupted traffic, and maliciously assaulted law enforcement officers, causing profound damage to our society. Radical elements brazenly advocated for "Hong Kong independence" and sought foreign intervention, severely undermining national sovereignty, security, and development interests, Chan said. 

The enactment of the NSL for Hong Kong was precisely to address this situation, to restore stability and safety to society, and to reclaim the rights and freedoms that Hong Kong citizens had been deprived of during the turbulent period, he told the meeting. "The implementation of the NSL for Hong Kong is vital for maintaining the stable and prosperous life of Hong Kong residents," Chan said. 

The formulation of the NSL for Hong Kong is China's internal affairs. As a modern rule-of-law state, China's legislative process adheres to a set of professional, scientific, and comprehensive implementation rules that brook no questioning or interference from other countries, Louis Chen, a member of the Election Committee and general secretary of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Countries like the UK and the US are only harming themselves by criticizing the law, Chen said. By comparison, the US has over 20 national security laws, with a series of stringent legislations on national security and counter-terrorism enacted post-9/11. Perhaps the US should lead by example in repealing these laws? Chen asked. 

Willy Fu, a law professor and director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, echoed this view. "In fact, the scope and severity of national security laws in Western countries, including the UK and the US, exceed those of Hong Kong's, with some even carrying the death penalty," Fu said, noting that the UK's security laws allow for warrantless arrests and detention of suspects for up to 14 days. 

Besides criticism of the NSL for Hong Kong, a group of independent UN human rights experts on Monday also called on Hong Kong to drop "all charges" against the infamous anti-China rioter Jimmy Lai. He is also deemed as a "modern-day traitor" but has been portrayed by the Western media as "freedom fighter." 

The trial of Lai for alleged violations of NSL for Hong Kong is still ongoing. Some legal experts said based on the materials provided in the trial, the facts and evidence of Lai's collusion with foreign forces are clear. 

"I want to reemphasize that ongoing legal proceedings should not be commented on or interfered with by anyone. Today, there were mentions of these legal proceedings. Judges independently make rulings on national security cases according to the law," Chan told the meeting in Geneva. 

Suggestions that certain individuals or organizations should be exempt from legal sanctions for their illegal actions are tantamount to granting them a privilege to break the law, which is entirely against the spirit of the rule of law, he said. 

Yet, the UK Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, and some anti-China Western politicians adopt double standards, supporting the financial backers and masterminds behind the riots, such as Jimmy Lai, while discrediting the NSL for Hong Kong, Fu noted. 

"Their blatant demands for the HKSAR Government to repeal the NSL for Hong Kong and release Lai violate international law and the basic norms of international relations. Such actions may even constitute offenses of obstructing justice and contempt of court and must be strongly condemned," he said.