Hong Kong delegates of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) have urged the territory’s government to accelerate the implementation of the national security law based on the Basic Law’s Article 23.
The delegates departed for Beijing on Tuesday to attend the “two sessions,” or the annual meetings of the CPPCC and NPC, which will begin on Thursday and Friday, respectively. They first traveled to Shenzhen for rapid Covid-19 tests before their flight to Beijing for the meetings.
Pro-Beijing politicians said they were looking forward to hearing the first speech by Xia Baolong, the new chief of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, on Hong Kong matters during the “two sessions.”
Maggie Chan Man-ki, a NPC member, said she would propose that the central government implement the national security law in Hong Kong by directly putting the clauses into the Annex III of the Basic Law based on the requirements of the Article 18.
Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, a pro-Beijing Legislative Council member, said in a letter to the CPPCC and NPC delegates that it would be better for the Hong Kong government to lead the passage of the legislation. Ho said he hopes the national security law will be swiftly discussed and passed by the end of this Legco term on July 16. Ho said if the government fails to implement the law, legislators can raise a motion with the power granted by the Basic Law’s Article 74.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam will depart for the openings of the “two sessions” on Thursday morning and return to Hong Kong on Friday.
Lam said in a media briefing before the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday that she was disappointed that Hong Kong has not been able to pass the national security law since the 1997 handover. She said it was natural that some people had raised the matter after seeing a lot of violent protests, or almost “terrorist incidents,” in Hong Kong over the past year. She said she had no additional comments to make.
Last Saturday, Charles Ho, a Hong Kong tycoon and a member of the CPPCC’s standing committee, said in a TV interview that Lam has adopted an “ostrich strategy” to avoid launching the national security law. Ho said he does not expect the public to strongly oppose the law, which will only target a small group of people who commit acts of treason, subversion or sedition.
Ho added that if people are worried about the law, Hong Kong can fully adopt the national security law of the United States. He said he may raise this idea during the “two sessions” and that he does not believe the central government will oppose it.
Tam Yiu-chung, the sole member representing Hong Kong in the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said he will not be surprised if the national security law in Hong Kong is discussed during the “two sessions.” He added that he hopes the law will be implemented next year.
Dennis Kwok, a Civic Party lawmaker, said the national security law is a time-bomb because Beijing will use it to suppress Hongkongers with politically divergent views. Kwok said if the Hong Kong government is going to implement the law after the Legislative Council election in September, pan-democrats will need to win more than half of the seats in the chamber in order to veto the bill.
The US State Department said earlier this month that it would delay the release of a report on whether Hong Kong is autonomous enough to continue receiving special treatment from the world’s biggest economy.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the delay would mean the report could “account for any additional actions that Beijing may be contemplating in the run-up” to China’s NPC “that would further undermine the people of Hong Kong’s autonomy.”