The Basic Law was drafted as part of the Sino-British Joint Declaration covering Hong Kong after its handover to China on July 1, 1997. The joint declaration stated that Hong Kong would be governed under the principle of ‘one country-two systems’ and would continue to enjoy its capitalist system and individual freedoms for 50 years after the handover.
Hong Kong 'should adopt national security law until own version is ready'
Jeffie Lam and Gary Cheung
Mainland academics have suggested that Hong Kong temporarily implement the nation's security laws until it legislates its own version.
Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing was "shocked" by the proposal and said it would be inconsistent with the Basic Law, adding that he did not believe it represented the views of the central government.
The idea was put forward in the latest issue of the Beijing-loyalist Bauhinia Magazine.
An article cited Peking University law professor Rao Geping as saying that mainland academics wanted the security laws applied in Hong Kong until the city enacted anti-subversion legislation in line with Article 23 of the city's mini-constitution.
"I am a bit shocked," Tsang said yesterday. "Article 23 of the Basic Law states that the SAR government should enact laws on its own to deal with the crime of subversion [against the central government].
"Any national laws that are to apply in Hong Kong are listed in Annex 3 of the Basic Law, and obviously, the national security law is not there. Rao should further explain his words."
Article 23 requires Hong Kong to pass laws prohibiting acts of "treason, secession, sedition or subversion" against the central government. It was the trigger for a 2003 protest by half a million people who saw such legislation as a threat to the rights and freedoms of Hongkongers. The march forced the government to shelve its plan.
In the April 1 issue of Bauhinia, Rao said Article 23 legislation had been "demonised" since 2003. Rao, quoting mainland academics, said Hong Kong should introduce the mainland's national security law on a trial basis until Article 23 legislation was passed. Rao said yesterday the proposal was not his.
The Security Bureau said the government was focused on livelihood issues and had no plan yet to pass an Article 23 bill.
Last month Rao explicitly ruled out public nomination of candidates for the 2017 chief executive election. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said Rao's comment had set the "definitive tone" of the debate over the issue.
Academics objected to that comment, made during the ongoing public consultation on political reform. Lam then said the government was still "genuine and sincere" about the consultation.
In March last year, Rao, a member of the Basic Law Committee, said Hongkongers should not ignore their obligation to enact national security legislation even as they pushed for universal suffrage.
In January, fellow committee member Professor Wang Zhenmin called for Article 23 to be implemented after advocates of independence broke into the PLA's headquarters in Admiralty.