Hong Kong should lean on its strengths in the rule of law to help foster the country’s “foreign-related” work in fields such as forming treaties while using its “legal weapons” to oppose overseas intervention, a top state official has said. Chinese foreign vice-minister Xie Feng, formerly Beijing’s top envoy in Hong Kong, said the city should make greater contributions to the construction of China’s legal work on the global stage by following President Xi Jinping’s thoughts on diplomacy and rule of law. “[Hong Kong] should use its edge in the rule of law to continue attracting international legal organisations to set up their branches in the city and hold legal conferences, and operate the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre well to turn the city into a legal hub in the Asia-Pacific region,” Xie said on Thursday at a conference in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule. Rule of law under siege from democracy promoters: state official in Hong Kong Apart from more actively integrating with the Greater Bay Area initiative, a national plan to turn nine cities in Guangdong province along with Hong Kong and Macau into an economic powerhouse, Xie also called on the city to provide wisdom for China when “applying, leading and shaping” international rules. That could be done by actively taking part in international conferences and multilateral treaty negotiations in the capacity of a Chinese delegation, he said. “[Hong Kong should] actively make use of its legal weapons to oppose foreign intervention, unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction in a bid to defend the legal rights of the country and the [Hong Kong] Special Administrative Region,” Xie added. As part of efforts to elevate the role of laws in governing the country, Beijing has for years called for the prioritising of “foreign-related legal work”, including being involved in the drafting of international law, resolving disputes through treaties, and revising domestic legislation to correlate them with those of other jurisdictions. Xi has also pledged to prioritise multilateral law enforcement and judicial cooperation to safeguard national security . At the same event jointly organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Shenzhen University, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she was confident the city’s solid legal infrastructure and talent could contribute to the cause. Meanwhile, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah also highlighted the importance of nurturing legal professionals with an international perspective to complement national development. “The Department of Justice will continue to enhance efforts in nurturing legal talent with international perspective, good understanding of international regulations and strong national identity, thereby contributing to the building up of the rule of law in our country, safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development interests in accordance with the law,” she wrote on her official blog on Thursday. Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies think tank, said Hong Kong could help the country build its own “Sino-led world order” under Western suppression by being the leading arbitration and dispute resolution hub in the Asia-Pacific region. “Some Asean countries or foreign businesses that would like to participate might however not have enough trust in the mainland’s judicial system,” he said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “Against such a backdrop, Hong Kong, which has a common law system, might emerge as their preferred place to resolve conflicts.” Lawyer Nick Chan Hiu-fung, director of the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre, said the “country-neutral” centre would leverage on the unique advantages of the “one country, two systems” principle and the huge market potential. “By adopting the model arbitration clause of [the centre], parties to a contract will not have to worry about local protectionism when contracting with foreign governments to make investments, nor worry about the neutrality and professionalism of their disputes resolver should a problem arise in the future,” he said.