- “The people of Hong Kong want to see stability again, they want a safe environment where they can work and live,” Lam said.
- China's central government reignited fears it could extradite Hongkongers to mainland China.
- Critics consider the law an attack on the “one country, two systems” framework, agreed on when Hong Kong was handed over by the UK.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, implored the Special Administrative Region’s opposition leaders today not to “demonize and stigmatize” the national security law recently passed by Beijing. Lam argues that demonizing the law goes against the interests of the Hongkongers and the territory at large.
“The people of Hong Kong want to see stability again, they want a safe environment where they can work and live,” Lam told reporters. The Chief Executive opined that quite a number of the region’s residents had gotten “fed up” with the violence therein, as well as the intervention of foreign forces in the city.
Lam’s statements come a day after Deng Zhonghua, deputy director of the Office for the Affairs of Hong Kong and Macau, said that the central government reserves the right to hold jurisdiction over cases “in very special circumstances” when applying the new national security law being tailor-made for Hong Kong.
This raises fears that Hong Kong residents could be extradited to mainland China to stand trial. A meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which exercises legislative power in China, is scheduled for this week. The law is not on the agenda, but Hong Kong delegate Tam Yiu Chung said on Monday that items could be added to the agenda.
The controversial national security law was passed by the NPC on May 28, prohibiting “any act of treason, separation, rebellion [and] subversion.” The law, seen as an attempt to end the pro-democracy protests that rocked the territory last year, also criminalizes “the organization of activities by foreign political organizations,” or the “establishment of ties” with those “by Hong Kong political organizations.”
“We are part of the People’s Republic of China, but we don’t have a mechanism to protect national security,” said Lam. “This is a risk not just to over 7 million people in Hong Kong, it’s also a risk to 1.4 billion people in the country,” she opined.
Critics consider the law an attack on the “one country, two systems” framework, agreed on when the former colony of Britain was returned to China in 1997. It clearly stated that the territory shall enjoy civic freedom and autonomy for 50 years. They also fear that the security law will be used to harass dissidents and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.
Without specifying how the law won’t lead to harassments in Hong Kong, Lam nevertheless guaranteed that people “need not worry,” saying that “it is up to the Hong Kong authorities to enforce the law.”
“Please accept and understand why we have to do it,” she asked. “The only purpose of this task is to protect Hong Kong and the country.”
Anti-government protests had virtually ceased, largely because of restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but protesters took to the streets again to challenge the national security law passed on May 28.
In addition, demonstrators also protested a law that criminalizes “offenses” against the Chinese national anthem. Approved on June 4, the controversial law states that anyone who mocks China’s national anthem faces up to 15 days in police detention.