towards-national-security-and-peace-in-hong-kong-summary

Context: The promulgation and implementation of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) marks a major turning point from unrest to peace and order.

More on the news:

  • Since the turbulence over the amendment bill last year, the anti-China forces in Hong Kong have openly instigated “Hong Kong independence” separatist acts.
  • Hong Kong city also has lost the title of the world’s freest economy it had held for 25 years. 
    • GDP of the city registered negative growth for the first time in a decade.
    • The unemployment rate of the city also reached a record high in nearly 10 years.

Background of Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong was a former British colony.
  • It was handed over to mainland China in 1997, becoming one of its Special Administrative Regions. 
    • The special administrative regions (SAR) are one type of provincial-level administrative division of China directly under the Central People's Government. They possess the highest degree of autonomy.
  • Hong Kong is governed by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law which affirms the principle of “one country, two systems”. 
  • This constitutional document is a product of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration
    • Under the declaration, China promised to honor Hong Kong’s liberal policies, a system of governance, an independent judiciary, and individual freedoms for a period of 50 years from 1997.
  • However, since the handover, Hong Kong residents have time and again taken to the streets to protect their Basic Law freedoms, with the first major pro-democracy protest taking place in 2003. 
  • In 2014, over one lakh city residents took part in the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ to protest against China’s denial of democratic reforms.

The purpose of new security law:

  • The Law is enacted for the purpose of ensuring the resolute, full and faithful implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems. It aims for
    • Safeguarding national security
    • Preventing, suppressing and imposing punishment for the offenses of secession and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security in relation to Hong Kong
    • Maintaining prosperity and stability of Hong Kong; and protecting the lawful rights and interests of the residents of Hong Kong.

Significant effects of the law as per Chinese Government

  • Sustained implementation of One Country, Two Systems: 
    • Only when One Country is safe and secure can Two Systems be safeguarded. 
    • However, it is being said that the legislation will neither change the principle of One Country-Two Systems, the capitalist system or the high degree of autonomy practiced in Hong Kong, 
      • It will also not change the legal system in Hong Kong or Hong Kong’s independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication.
  • Protecting the lawful rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents
    • The legislation clearly categorizes four types of criminal offenses and principles of the rule of law such as respecting and protecting human rights. 
    • Thus it may not affect but better protect the lawful rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents
    • For the vast majority of Hong Kong residents, the law is a guardian for their rights, freedoms, and peaceful life.
  • Aimed at long term development:
    • The legislation plugs the legal loopholes and provides strong institutional and legal safeguards for national security in the city.
    • Without national security law, there will be neither lasting peace and stability for China nor long-term prosperity and stability for Hong Kong.
    • The law will also help to consolidate and enhance Hong Kong’s international financial, trade and shipping center status, 
      • It will further strengthen the confidence of foreign investors, 
      • Also, it may aid in creating a better living and business environment for foreign nationals and enterprises in Hong Kong. 

What does this mean to India?

  • India and Hong Kong have close economic and trade relations. Therefore, the law will serve India’s interest if it is able to  maintain the prosperity and stability in Hong Kong. 
  • The national security law will better protect the safety of foreign investment and legitimate rights and interests of foreign nationals in Hong Kong, including that of India.

Conclusion

  • National security law belongs to the sovereignty of a country and the authority of the Central government
    • Therefore according to China, it is justified that it governs the country and Hong Kong in accordance with the law.

Image Source: TH