HK exempt from amended law on subversion

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 March, 1997, 12:00am

CHINA'S newly amended criminal law, which defines subversion as a criminal offence, will not be applied to the territory after July 1, senior judicial officials said yesterday.

Both Xiao Yang, the Judiciary Minister, and Cai Cheng, the Chinese National People's Congress Law Committee vice-chairman, said Hong Kong would have to follow only the Basic Law on subversion.

'The Chinese criminal law will be implemented only in China,' Mr Xiao said.

According to Article 23 of the Basic Law, the Special Administrative Region will enact laws of its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession and subversion against the central Government.

It is therefore up to Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa to figure out how the specific bill will be composed before it is tabled to the provisional legislature for endorsement.

The criminal law, to be passed during the National People's Congress plenum begun yesterday, amended the offence of 'counter-revolution', which is often used to charge Chinese democracy activists, into 'threatening national safety'.

Mr Cai, a former judiciary minister, said it was because of the passage of time that the law needed to be changed.

'The time is now different. We are in the building-up period of socialism. There should no longer be any 'counter-revolutionary' offence,' Mr Cai said.

He said 'threatening national safety' meant an act which caused catastrophic damage to the national interest, for example subverting China or overthrowing its socialist system.

Peter Wong Man-kong, an NPC local deputy, suggested however the SAR should follow the Chinese criminal law when drafting its own bill.

'For instance in the definition of subversion, Hong Kong should follow the Chinese version because it is a matter of 'one country'.

'It is difficult to imagine that the two places would have a different interpretation,' he said.