A mainland expert on the Basic Law has warned that Beijing will not sit idly by in the face of attempts to secede Hong Kong from the country and undermine territorial integrity. Rao Geping, a member of the Basic Law Committee, said Hong Kong’s internal security and public order was part of national security. “Hong Kong people should not assume that calls for secession are only an internal matter for the city. Instead, the country’s territorial integrity is at stake,” he said in an interview with the South China Morning Post on Friday. “My view is that from the legal perspective, the central government will not sit idly in the face of attempts in Hong Kong to secede the city from the country and undermine territorial integrity,” said the leading mainland adviser on Hong Kong affairs. “Those calls will only bring Hong Kong to a dead end. Hongkongers should be clear-headed about the damage caused by extremist separatists.” But Rao stopped short of renewing his call for a relaunch of national security legislation in the city or suggesting what legal means the central government would deploy to rein in secession attempts. On February 16, Rao called for shelved national security legislation to be enacted urgently in the wake of the Mong Kok riot on February 8. Some mainland academics have suggested extending mainland China’s national security laws to Hong Kong if the city fails to enact its own law. READ MORE: Rao Geping calls for Hong Kong national security legislation after Mong Kok riot Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law states that the city must enact its own national security law. But a bill to implement the clause was shelved in the wake of a 500,000-strong protest march on July 1, 2003. “There is a lack of tools in laws of Hong Kong to sanction the acts of secession and undermining the country’s territorial integrity,” Rao said. Two weeks ago, Beijing branded the instigators of the riot “separatists”, a classification that appears to place them in the same category as separatists from Tibet and Xinjiang who are considered a threat to national security. Rao, also a vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping warned in the 1980s that the central government would not allow Hong Kong to turn into an independent political entity. READ MORE: Chinese law professor urges Hongkongers to reject calls for independence “There are growing calls for de-sinicisation and seceding Hong Kong from the mainland in recent years. What is the difference between these calls and attempts to turn Hong Kong into an independent political entity?” he said. Rao, a law professor at Peking University, believed that those calling for Hong Kong independence or secession from the country did not represent mainstream public opinion in the city. He noted a few people involved in the disturbances chanted slogans like “Hong Kong independence” but it should not be cited as evidence for labelling the incident from a political perspective. “But it’s noteworthy that there are signs of those extremists advocating secession are now resorting to violent methods,” he said.