Hong Kong's judicial freedom not affected by national security law: CE

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Tuesday that the national security law for Hong Kong will not affect the judicial independence of the special administrative region.

Lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, made a video speech on Tuesday at the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The session opened on Tuesday and will end on July 17.

In Beijing, the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, voted on Tuesday to unanimously approve the national security law for Hong Kong.

"The law will not affect Hong Kong's renowned judicial independence. It will not affect legitimate rights and freedoms of individuals that are protected under the Basic Law and the relevant provisions of international covenants as applied to Hong Kong," Lam said, citing the freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of demonstration and of procession.

"In short, the legislation will not undermine 'one country, two systems' and Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy," she said.

Lam explained that the legislation aims to prevent, curb and punish acts of secession, subversion of State power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security.

"It will only target an extremely small minority of people who have breached the law, while the life and property, basic rights and freedoms of the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong residents will be protected," said Lam, who assumed the post on July 1, 2017.

She told representatives from around the world that in all countries, the power to legislate on national security rests solely with the central government.

"Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China -- a special administrative region enjoying a high degree of autonomy thatcomes directly under the central government," she said.

According to Lam, as an exceptional arrangement under the policy of "One Country, Two Systems", the Basic Law governing the two SARs of Hong Kong and Macao obliges the SAR to enact local legislation on its own to safeguard national security. While Macao successfully completed the task in 2009. Hong Kong, after a failed attempt in 2003, had not been able to fulfill its constitutional duty until Tuesday.

"For the sake of not only the 7.5 million Hong Kong residents, but also the 1.4 billion people in the Chinese mainland, the question of how long we could tolerate such a gaping hole innational security has to be asked, and answered," she said.

She said the legislation is urgently needed after Hong Kong has been traumatized by escalating violence fanned by external forces since June last year.

Lam said that once rated as one of the safest cities in the world, Hong Kong's security and stability have become relevant concerns, citing the groups that advocated "Hong Kong independence", incited violence, burned the national flag, vandalized the national emblem and stormed the central government office in Hong Kong.

She noted that some Hong Kong politicians proclaimed that they would paralyze the Hong Kong SAR government while others campaigned for foreign governments to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs or even to impose sanctions on Hong Kong.

"No central government could turn a blind eye to such threats to sovereignty and national security, as well as risks of subversion of State power," she said.

"These acts have crossed the 'one country' red line and called for resolute action."

Lam criticized foreign governments and politicians who objected to the legislation by adopting "double standards".

"All those countries that have pointed their fingers at China have their own national security legislation in place," she said.

"We could think of no valid reason why China alone should be inhibited from enacting national security legislation to protect every corner of its territory and all of its nationals."

Lam said that she remains hopeful that, with full conviction in "one country, two systems" and upon implementation of the national security legislation, Hong Kong will ride out the political storm that began last June and emerge stronger with stability restored.

"I urge the international community to respect our country's right to safeguard national security and Hong Kong people's aspirations for stability and harmony," she said.