National unity is everyone's duty: lawyers
Tony Cheung and Ernest Kao
The solicitors' professional body says it has a role to play in defending national interests and rejects criticism over its statement on Sino-Vietnamese tensions issued at the weekend.
All Hong Kong Chinese citizens have a responsibility to uphold national unity and the "intactness of sovereignty", the Law Society said.
Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung clarified yesterday that it had released the statement on Saturday in response to one from its Vietnamese counterpart, which condemned China for infringing on Vietnam's sovereignty.
Lam said the society's statement stressed that conflicts over sovereignty were diplomatic issues that should be resolved by the foreign ministries of the nations involved.
"Some people have commented on the way we handled the matter," Lam told reporters. "I would like to make a serious statement here: safeguarding national unity and the intactness of sovereignty, and maintaining Hong Kong's prosperity and stability are the responsibilities of every Hong Kong Chinese citizen. The Law Society of Hong Kong's response was to defend the national interest.
"It is the responsibility of every Hong Kong Chinese citizen to love the country and love Hong Kong.
"We will not accept any criticism of this stance."
Lam also endorsed Beijing's white paper, issued last Tuesday, as a "positive" document that reiterated Hong Kong's judicial independence and high degree of autonomy.
A day after the release of the white paper, the Bar Association, which represents the city's barristers, expressed its objection to the paper categorising judges as administrators and officially ordering them to fulfil political roles.
Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said he agreed with the society's response to the Vietnamese statement, but could not understand why Lam referred to loving the country.
"As a professional body, the Law Society should try to avoid weighing into politics," he said.