Hong Kong was urged to launch the national security law as the Fourth Plenary Session of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee Political Bureau called for improving the “one country, two systems” model.
China’s state and governance systems enjoy notable strengths, the CPC said in a communique after the 4-day Fourth Plenary Session ended on Thursday. The central government will continue to uphold the principle of “one country, two systems,” maintain lasting prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao and promote the peaceful reunification of China.
The “one country, two systems” formula is an important system for the CPC leaders to achieve the peaceful reunification of China and is a remarkable invention of socialism with Chinese characteristics, it said. Hong Kong and Macau should establish complete special administrative regions with legal and law enforcement systems to safeguard the national security of China, it added.
The communique did not mention the principles of “high degree of autonomy” and “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong,” which are stated in the Basic Law.
Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said the communique obviously refers to the fact that Hong Kong has not passed the national security law since the 1997 handover. Tam said the advantages of two systems could only be achieved if the country’s national security was well protected. He said there was a need to review the clauses of a proposeds national security law that failed to be passed in 2003.
Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” model had “fundamental flaws” in how it was implemented from the outset, Charles Li Xiaojia, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, said in a speech in London on October 30. Li later clarified that he was actually a fan of “one country, two systems.”
The central government did not have confidence in the implementation of universal suffrage in Hong Kong after the legislation of the national security law based on Article 23 of the Basic Law failed in 2003, Li said. At the same time, Hong Kong people would not embrace “one country” without universal suffrage, he said.
Hong Kong people will not see the success of “two systems” if they don’t agree not to challenge “one country,” Li said.
Beijing had a feeling that the “Hong Kong independence” separatists, together with external powers in Taiwan and the United States, had used Hong Kong’s chaotic situations to challenge China’s sovereignty and the central government’s power, said Lau Siu-kai, the vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies.
During the anti-extradition saga, many Hong Kong political groups had connections with foreign political organizations, making Beijing feel that there was a need to launch the national security law, Lau said. Apart from this, the central government was also aware of the threats from the Internet and financial and cultural sectors, he said.
Willy Lam Wo-lap, an adjunct professor at the Center for China Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the legislation related to Article 23 of the Basic Law has been put on Beijing’s schedule. If Chief Executive Carrie Lam steps down in March 2020, her successor will have to launch the national security law within one year, Lam said.
Yau Ching-yuen, a Hong Kong-based political analyst, said the next chief executive would take office in July 2020 and submit the national security bill to the Legislative Council in October.
Citing an unnamed source, Yau said Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan has become the person-in-charge for Hong Kong affairs during the Fourth Plenary Session. He said if Henry Tang Ying-nien, former Chief Secretary, is chosen to be the “interim” chief executive, he has to complete the legislation of the national security law by mid-2022, clearing the political obstacles for Norman Chan Tak-lam to succeed him.
Johnny Lau Yui-siu, a Hong Kong-based political commentator, said the communique showed that the central government was worried about the Hong Kong situation. Lau said Beijing will continue to tighten its control in Hong Kong but it does not mean that it will speed up the legislation of Article 23. He said the Hong Kong government may launch new laws to prohibit acts of insulting police officers and control the activities on the Internet.
Clashes between the police and protesters continued this week after John Lee Ka-chiu, Security for Security, officially retracted the extradition bill in the Legco on October 23. On Thursday, hundreds of masked people burned debris on roads in Mong Kok and Prince Edward while some threw petrol bombs. Riot police fired many rounds of tear gas canisters and used pepper sprays to disperse them.
In one case, a police officer was seen using pepper sprays directly on the eyes of a man, who did not wear a mask or commit any violent act.
Meanwhile, thousands of masked people gathered in Lan Kwai Fong in Central to celebrate Halloween on Thursday evening. Over a hundred police were sent to block the entrance of Lan Kwai Fong between 8:30 and 10:3pm. They hit people with their batons and used pepper sprays and tear gas to control the crowd. They arrested some people who talked back.
Police have further increased their forces to suppress the protests over the past few weeks. They intercepted, injured and arrested some journalists, first aiders, social workers and local residents, including teenagers and elderly people. On Wednesday, police fired some tear gas canisters into the residential area in Tuen Mun and entered a residential building in Siu Hin Court without a warrant. They were criticized for forcing people to kneel down during the operation.
Police also arrested the owners of a Japanese restaurant and entered it to arrested some black-shirted people without a warrant.
Philip Dykes, the current Chairman of the Council of the Hong Kong Bar Association, told the Stand News in an interview that Hong Kong’s rule of law was undermined when some police officers abused their power and used violence without having to bear responsibility.