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Beijing steps up law pressure

Top News | Phoenix Un Nov 17, 2017
The mainland's top Basic Law adviser strongly hinted yesterday that Beijing is impatient with Hong Kong's failure to enact the controversial national security law 20 years after the handover.

In a 50-minute speech at a Basic Law seminar, Li Fei said bad influences in Hong Kong were a consequence that flows from the absence of the law.

He also said that whatever rights Hong Kong enjoys are bestowed by Beijing and not inherent.

The Hong Kong administration shelved legislation on Article 23 in 2003 after more than half a million people took to the street to protest against it.

Li, chairman of HKSAR Basic Law Committee under the National People's Congress standing committee, made the comments while addressing the seminar to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

His speech was broadcast live to 50 schools.

Li said it is the special administrative region's constitutional responsibility to enact the national security law.

"The Basic Law has been in effect for 20 years but legislation in accordance with Basic Law Article 23 still hasn't been done. The bad influence resulting from the lack of the law is obvious," Li said.

He said that under the constitution and the Basic Law, Hong Kong should ponder three questions - where it comes from, its position in the country, and what it should do.

He said it was the National People's Congress that decided to establish Hong Kong as a SAR under the constitution, thus the SAR is rooted in the constitution.

"Without the constitution, there is no Basic Law, no SAR and no 'one country, two systems,'" Li said.

"However, some people only mention the Basic Law when talking about the SAR's constitutional rights, omitting the constitution, and some even say the constitutional basis of the Hong Kong SAR is the Sino-British Joint Declaration, all of which are incorrect."

He slammed those who spread the idea of independence throughout the community and in schools, and accused some local youngsters of being ignorant of history.

"They advocate localist self- determination and independence, smear the rule of the central government over Hong Kong and refuse to recognize one country," he said.

"Some of the radicals even put separatism into action. Such behavior is ridiculous, illegal and, in terms of emotion, intolerable."

He said the SAR is only a local government, just like other local governments in the mainland, under Beijing's rule, and is neither independent nor semi-independent.

As for what the SAR should do, Li said it should respect the constitution, help guarantee national development and defend its sovereignty by enacting anti- subversion law.

Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Hong Kong deputy Tam Yiu-chung said the Article 23 legislation should be completed during Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's current term of office.

Former secretary for security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who had tried to push the law through in 2003 but failed, insisted Li was not trying to put pressure on Lam to enact the law, but agreed the lack of the national security law had encouraged talk of independence.

Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said: "We have enough time to assess the timing, and if the timing is bad, work will become more difficult."

Li later went to inspect the site of the West Kowloon terminal of Guangzhou- Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link before attending a dinner at Government House. He visits the Hong Kong-Zhuhai- Macau Bridge today before call at the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before leaving Hong Kong.

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April 2019