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The Relevance of The National Security Law to the Practice of the “One Country, Two Systems” Principle in Hong Kang
Views:1289 Updated:2020-07-09

On 30 June, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China passed the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kang Special Administrative Region, and the law also came into force on the same day. In a reception held on 1 July to commemorate Hong Kang’s return to the motherland 23 years ago, Hong Kang Chief Executive said that “The law marks the most significant progress in the relationship between the central government and the HKSAR in the past 23 years, and that its enactment is a historical step to improve Hong Kang’s ability to safeguard our national security… it is a turning point to take Hong Kang out of the current impasse, and to restore stability and order from the chaos.”


It is believed that most of the Hong Kang residents would support the Chief Executive’s points, and would agree that the promulgation of the National Security Law in Hong Kang is very significant and timely. Within 8 days in a signing campaign, more than 3 million Hong Kang residents through signature had shown their support to the National Security Law.


The enactment of the National Security Law also received a strong international support. So far about 70 countries have expressed their support to the law, and opposed any foreign interference in China’s internal affairs.


Meanwhile, a group of states have expressed their concern and criticized the National Security Law in Hong Kang. The series of critics from this group of states roughly centred on the following: the law violated the human rights and democratic freedoms of the Hong Kang residents; and China tended to erode Hong Kang’s autonomy and to turn the “One Country, Two Systems” principle into the “One Country, One System” Principle etc. The U.S. House of Representatives in responding to this has passed a “Hong Kang Autonomy Act”; and it threatened to take further measures against Hong Kang’s interest. A couple of others within this group of states also pledged to receive more Hong Kang immigrants or allow the Hong Kang residents to seek asylum in their countries.


Overall, a lot of discussions and debates have been going on upon the promulgation of the National Security Law in Hong Kang. This short analytical piece would add a brief point on the “One Country, Two Systems” principle in particular, as well as make a response to the criticism that the National Security Law violated the human rights and freedoms of the Hong Kang residents.


About the “One Country, Two Systems” Principle


The “One Country, Two Systems” principle was designed and has been practised by China under a particular and critical historical condition. It is neither a promise/commitment made by China to any other states; nor is it a treaty signed between China and others. In the very nature, the “One Country, Two Systems” principle is one of China’s crucial national policies made by the Chinese government upon complex circumstances.


Apparently, the designing and adoption of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy was already reflective of the then Chinese policy makers’ serious consideration of the Hong Kang local people’s needs as well as of Hong Kang’s special historical background. If without having taken these factors into account, China could have just directly taken Hong Kang back, and adopted a “One Country, One System” policy 23 years ago.


Hong Kang’s autonomy status was empowered by China’s Constitution years ago. Setting up the Hong Kang Special Administrative Region upon Hong Kang’s return to the motherland, making and enacting the Hong Kang Basic Law, as well as establishing and practising the “One Country, Two Systems” principle all abide by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China. China, as an independent sovereign state, has every legitimate right and responsibility to adjust its national policies including the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, in order to better meet the people’s needs and to well adapt to the changing internal and external situations. Other countries would do the same. 


Whether the National Security Law Would Threat the Democratic Freedoms of the Hong Kang Society?


As generally agreed among a wide range of circles, the National Security Law is to protect the practice of the “One Country, Two Systems”, to safeguard national security, and to protect the interests, rights, and freedoms of majority of the people living in Hong Kang. Only those, who tend to break the law, threat national security, and deliberately offend the human rights, interests, and freedoms of the ordinary Hong Kang residents through unlawful means, are afraid of the enactment of the National Security Law and see the law as a threat.


For the series of external forces who claimed to care about the human rights and democratic freedoms of the Hong Kang people, what they really care about is their own interests, and what they obviously attempt to protect is the rights and freedoms of a small group of people who have either committed a crime or have the potential to commit a crime. If those group of external forces are true human rights defenders, instead of making angry criticisms and comments, they are strongly suggested to listen to the voices of the majority of the Hong Kang residents.


Anyway, it is believed that still the ideology plays a major role behind the criticisms to the National Security Law. Some have tried very hard to defend the capitalist democratic system in Hong Kang, as they generally view that the capitalist democratic system is more advanced compared to other type of systems, even though this “advanced system” has frequently failed to prove its competence and efficiency in dealing with emergencies on a number of occasions.


In response to those who still take the ideology as a big matter concerning Hong Kang and even beyond, this piece would suggest the following point.


Ideology is an old issue having ever constrained the cooperation among nation states with different political and economic systems for a certain period of time of last century. This ideological issue should be downplayed or abandoned when managing of relationship and collaboration among states in today’s international relations.


There is a necessity for some to understand that whether Hong Kang adopts a capitalist system or a socialist system in the future will not be the key to decide the areas of and levels of cooperation between Hong Kang and other countries. Whether the number of transnational groups, agencies, organizations, and corporations could benefit from their collaboration with Hong Kang - as far as they abide by the law – will very much depend on what policies the Hong Kang local government will take, what polices the Chinese central government will take more crucially, whether China will be committed to deepening its reform and opening-up policy, and whether the local and central governments will be capable of implementing certain policies.


China has a different political system from the industrialized nations, yet over the past years since the implementation of China’s opening-up policy, ideological difference hasn’t affected China’s engagement and collaboration with both democracies and non-democracies - it has neither affected China’s participation in globalization and international cooperation, nor has it constrained China’s efforts to promote multilateralism together with other states and prevented China’s contribution to global governance.


After all, different political systems shouldn’t matter that much anymore, as long as countries, democracies or non-democracies, are really committed to finding out solutions to address the number of common challenges faced by the world today.


Once again, those external forces, who have recently paid too much attention to the National Security Law and its relevance to the Hong Kang society, are suggested to manage properly of their domestic issues first.




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Copyright:Centre for Strategic Thinking