Hong Kong has responsibility to enact national security law, Lam says, pledging to create ‘favourable environment’ for it
The city’s chief executive said this after her three-day maiden duty visit to Beijing
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor wrapped up her three-day maiden duty visit to Beijing by saying that she would do her best to create a favourable environment to enact the highly contentious national security legislation in Hong Kong, adding that Beijing knew her stance on the matter.
Speaking to reporters after her maiden three-day duty visit to Beijing, Lam was asked if she had discussed enacting Article 23 of the city’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, with President Xi Jinping, whom she met on Friday afternoon.
The article states that Hong Kong “shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion” against the central government.
President Xi Jinping praises Carrie Lam for good start as leader and ‘fostering stability’ in Hong Kong
“The length of my duty visit is short, and so we did not discuss individual matters. But it is Hong Kong’s constitutional responsibility to enact Article 23 through local legislation.
“It is to protect national security … the country’s security is Hong Kong’s security,” Lam said.
“During my election campaign or in my policy address, I said we needed to fulfil this constitutional responsibility. But because this is very controversial, we need to do it when the environment is suitable. As the Chief Executive … I have the responsibility to create the favourable conditions. The state leaders know my stance.”
In 2003, the government was forced to scrap a plan to enact the national security law after half a million people took to the streets.
Last month, Beijing signalled its impatience at Hong Kong for making no progress in rolling out the law, suggesting the city is already paying the price with independence advocates exploiting the lack of such legislation.
Li Fei, a senior mainland official who specialises in the Basic Law, made clear that “the duty is unavoidable”.
Critics have said that the law would be a threat to civil liberties.
Asked if she had discussed Hong Kong’s electoral reforms with Xi, Lam said: “I would not particularly relay President Xi’s words to you. But in improving the implementation of the Basic Law … there is Article 45 which talks about electing the Chief Executive through universal suffrage.”
In 2014, hundreds of thousands of people launched the 79-day Occupy civil disobedience movement to call for genuine universal suffrage in electing the city’s leader, instead of the chief executive selected by a panel.
Phila Siu is reporting from Beijing