Hong Kong’s No 2 official defended the city’s Beijing-drafted national security law at the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, saying it had been effective in curbing violent anti-government protests and was aimed at preserving residents’ freedoms.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the international community should not adopt double standards in criticising Hong Kong’s national security law when similar legislation existed in almost all countries.
“The law is vital in bringing Hong Kong back on track and safeguarding our country’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” Cheung, the deputy head of the China delegation, said in a video statement published on Tuesday. “In implementing the law, the legitimate rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people will be protected and respected.”
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
Beijing imposed the sweeping law on Hong Kong on June 30, criminalising in broad terms acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with external forces. The legislation was in response to months of widespread anti-government protests that rocked the city last year, which mainland and local officials maintained were fomented by separatists and foreign powers.
In his statement, Cheung said advocates of Hong Kong independence and those colluding with external forces had visibly subsided after the law came into force. He added that Hong Kong would continue to be an open and international finance and business centre.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Monday at the start of the Human Rights Council's session that her office had been following the impact of the national security law, and encouraged the Hong Kong government to review the law “in response to any negative consequences it might have on the enjoyment of human rights”.
The law has been criticised for its vague definition of national security offences, and for allowing the central Chinese government to exercise jurisdiction over cases in exceptional circumstances.
The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors rights issues in International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) signatories such as Hong Kong, asked the city’s government in August to explain how that treaty was compatible with the national security law.
Article 4 of the national security law stipulates that the rights and freedoms that Hong Kong residents enjoy under the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, and the provisions of ICCPR, as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, should be protected in accordance with the law.
This article Hong Kong’s No 2 defends national security law as ‘vital’ in statement to UN Human Rights Council first appeared on South China Morning Post