West dreads losing spying toehold in Hong Kong, says councillor

  • China
  • Wednesday, 08 Jul 2020

Police walk past a plaque outside the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region after its official inauguration in Hong Kong on July 8, 2020. - AFP

HONG KONG (China Daily/ANN): Hong Kong Executive Councillor Wong Kwok-kin said fear of an end to their once-uncontrolled spying and intelligence activities in Hong Kong makes Western countries fret over the National Security Law.

Wong, in a one-on-one interview with China Daily, said that’s why the Western countries, led by the US, come up with nonsense excuses to oppose the law, accusing the legislation of breaching the “one country, two systems” principle and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

“This is their ‘bandit logic’: You often caused trouble in my house, which was unguarded, but now you curse me for installing an iron gate to protect myself and shut you out, ” Wong said.

“I guess the plan for national security legislation in Hong Kong was well-perceived and well-planned perhaps as early as 2014, while the central authorities were also prepared to pay a certain price, including sanctions by foreign countries. The reaction of the US is within expectations and is what I call a ‘minimum charge, ’ ” Wong said.

In Wong’s opinion, the legislation is a response to a growing trend of chaos instigated by anti-China forces in the city through collusion with the foreign and external forces over the years.

There were protests to Basic Law Article 23 legislation in 2003 and national education in 2012, the illegal “Occupy Central” movement in 2014, the Mong Kok riot in 2016, and last year’s anti-extradition-law protests, Wong said.

In the eyes of the veteran lawmaker, the much-awaited law, which went into effect on June 30, has already proved effective in some ways.

The fact that fewer people than before were defying the law on July 1 is a living embodiment of the law’s deterrence, he said.

Many who took to the street on July 1 were youngsters — students who were easily incited by the ringleaders, he observed.

“Some did not take part because they wanted to watch and test the bottom line of law enforcement and find out if there are gray areas. They wait and see if the arrested people are prosecuted, if they are prosecuted for national security offences, and whether the sentences by court are lenient or severe.”

Some key figures from the opposition camp have either announced their plans to “retire” or have left the city.

“Many people from the opposition camp, including the violent, radical ones, were not there because some were frightened, arrested or have ‘retired’ or fled Hong Kong already, ” he said.

Moments before the law was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the nation’s top legislature, some known separatist groups in the city announced they would disband their parties.

On June 30, Joshua Wong Chi-fung, a high-profile separatism advocate, quit and dissolved the party he co-founded. Wong’s fellow co-founder, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, left the city quietly before the law took effect.

Apart from serving as a deterrent, the executive councilor further highlighted some provisions of the national security legislation, praising them as very useful, effectively targeting and resolving the difficulties that emerged in the past.

He pointed out: “The approval of financial and personnel resources need not go through the Legislative Council and will therefore be free from the long-standing hindrance and filibusters by the opposition camp, while it will be faster for the chief executive to approve covert surveillance and interception of communications, instead of the court.

“Moreover, the national security commission based in Hong Kong retains the jurisdiction to handle the most serious national security cases or cases that the Hong Kong government is unable to deal with, while police can engage professional and technical people from outside Hong Kong to assist in police investigations.”

Wong, however, believes no law is perfect or airtight, saying the national security legislation should be reviewed or amended when necessary in the future.

“The National Security Law cannot solve every problem, so the government must take on board additional policy measures to deal with such other existing problems as education, civil servants, housing and lands, and youth affairs, ” he said. - China Daily/Asia News Network

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