HK officials, lawmakers confront West's attacks on Article 23 legislation, ready to fight back
New national security law in HK fully aligns with the principles of international laws and practices: official
Published: Mar 21, 2024 07:21 PM
Hong Kong file photo

Hong Kong. File photo

Despite the rising criticism and concerns from some Western countries on the Article 23 legislation in Hong Kong, local officials and lawmakers are confronting those misunderstanding and the ill-intentioned slandering and smearing campaign at the global stage, and some told the Global Times on Thursday that they have been ready to "bite the bullet" as some Western officials are calling for the fresh sanctions and other countermeasure against the passage of the law. 

A number of officials and representatives have spared no effort in using various international platforms to explain the urgency and necessity of the legislation and to clarify misunderstanding about it. 

The Article 23 legislation fully aligns with the principles of international laws and practices. The comments made by some countries and organizations on this issue is in complete disregard of basic jurisprudence and facts, and demonstrate nothing more than double standards and sophistry, Hong Kong Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan told the 55th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Wednesday local time.

Following the passage of the law with unanimous vote at the Legislative Council (LegCo) of Hong Kong on Tuesday, countries and organizations including the US, the UK, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia as well as EU all voiced "concerns" over the legislation, and some criticized that the contents of the law are "too vague" and "too broad" while others said the new law could further "erode the city's freedom." 

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk also deplored the "accelerated adoption" of the legislation, citing some concerns about the "incompatibility of many of its provisions with international human rights law," according to a statement issued by the office of the high commissioner. 

"The so-called human rights experts at the UN, in my opinion, generally prioritize politics over human rights, as they talk about politics first and human rights are not really a point of great concern for them," Gary Wong Chi-him, who have attended the UNHRC meetings for more than five times and also spoke at this year's session, told the Global Times on Thursday. Wong is a board member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

The attitude applies not only to Hong Kong but also to our country as a whole, Wong said. The Hong Kong representative said as those experts have a significant misunderstanding on the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong over the past few years, they now raised similar concerns over the Article 23 legislation.   

In fact, Cheung also raised some facts at the UNHRC session. Many countries have enacted a host of national security laws based on their own national security risks and needs. The US has at least 21 pieces of legislation; the UK has at least 14 pieces; Canada has at least nine pieces; and Singapore has at least six pieces, he said. 

In refuting the US State Department's criticism over the legislation, the Chinese Embassy in the US said on Wednesday local time that the provisions of relevant crimes are clear, the boundaries between crimes and non-crimes are distinct, the penalties are reasonable, and the regulatory measures are appropriate. 

The "external interference" is defined with full consideration of Hong Kong's realities and the common practices of various countries. The legislation is legitimate, lawful and beyond reproach, the embassy said. 

"I think many so-called human rights experts, they have not seen the specific provisions of the legislation, and that's why they have a great misunderstanding," Wong said. 

Besides those criticism and concerns, a number of Western officials are calling for new sanctions on Hong Kong. 

In a joint letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week vis-a-vis the Article 23 legislation, the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China called for "a re-evaluation of US business and travel advisories" for Hong Kong and "the closure of Hong Kong economic and trade offices" in the US, the NBC reported on Thursday.

Meanwhile, some British MPs also raised the issue that the UK's Foreign Office has "indefinitely" paused targeted sanctions against Chinese officials, criticizing it as "terrible" decision and citing the passage of the Article 23 legislation, according to the Independent. 

Nixie Lam Lam, a lawmaker who cast her vote for the passage of the law, told the Global Times on Thursday that when we were advancing the Article 23 legislation, we actually predicated that we might be sanctioned by some Western countries, but as lawmakers, we have been well prepared for that. 

"If we are afraid of the so-called sanctions and chose not to protect Hong Kong, it's not the way we are working," Lam said. 

Another lawmaker Dominic Lee Tsz-king echoed such view. "We just do good and right things for Hong Kong. As for what will happen later, we will not be afraid and will not think this will have any impact on us," Lee said. 

Lam also noted that some Western countries and politicians are running out of tactics for containing Hong Kong, merely resorting to spreading false information about the Article 23 legislation, coupled with threats to sanction our officials. "It's the same old routine but in reality, not effective," she said.