Question: On June 2nd, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab gave a statement in the House of Commons on the situation in Hong Kong and the UK’s response to it, claiming that the national security law for Hong Kong would upend China’s “One Country, Two Systems” paradigm, undermine the existing commitments to protect the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, and violate the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law; and that if China enacts this national security law, the UK will consider what further response it makes, working with those international partners and others, and change the arrangements for British National Overseas passport-holders in Hong Kong. What is the comment of the Chinese Embassy in the UK?
Embassy Spokesperson: The statement by UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in the House of Commons once again contains irresponsible remarks on the national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR and constitutes a flagrant interference in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs. China expresses grave concern and strong opposition. I would like to reiterate the following:
First, Hong Kong affairs brook no external interference. Non-interference in other country’s internal affairs is a fundamental principle of international law and a basic norm governing modern international relations, which must be observed by all countries. Since the handover on 1 July 1997, Hong Kong has been a special administrative region of China. The national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR is purely China’s internal affair, in which no foreign country has the right to interfere.
Second, as is in all countries, it is the central government that is responsible for upholding national security. Making laws on national security falls within the legislative power of the nation. This is true for any country in the world. Through Article 23 of the Basic Law, the Central Government of China authorizes the Hong Kong SAR to enact laws on safeguarding national security. This authorization, however, does not change the nature that such legislative power belongs to the Central Government. Nor does it deprive the Central Government of its due responsibility and right to safeguard national security in Hong Kong. Twenty-three years after Hong Kong’s return, Article 23 of the Basic Law has been severely stigmatized and demonized, and no legislation has been enacted, leaving the Hong Kong SAR “defenseless” in terms of national security. In view of the grave situation with regard to national security in the Hong Kong SAR and the SAR’s inability to enact laws on safeguarding national security by itself, it is the right and responsibility of the NPC, as the highest organ of state power in China, to plug this loophole that compromises national security in Hong Kong through legislation in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law.
Third, the national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR facilitates the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” and helps safeguard the rights and freedom of the Hong Kong residents. Since the handover of Hong Kong, the policies of “One Country, Two Systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy have been implemented faithfully, enabling the Hong Kong residents to enjoy unprecedented rights and freedom. The Chinese Government will remain committed to implementing these policies fully and faithfully. I must emphasize that “One Country, Two Systems” is a complete concept. “One Country” is the precondition and basis for “Two Systems”. “Two Systems” is subordinate to and derived from “One Country”. The national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR protects both “One Country” and “Two Systems” and is in line with this policy as a whole. It will improve the institutions and mechanisms that are essential to the implementation of the Constitution of China and the Basic Law in the Hong Kong SAR, and ensure the steady and sustained development of “One Country, Two Systems”. No right or freedom is absolute. They must be exercised within the limits of laws. The legislation is aimed at the very few activities that gravely undermine China’s national security. It will provide better safeguards to Hong Kong residents so that they can exercise their statutory rights and freedom in a safer environment.
Fourth, the allegation that the legislation violates the Sino-British Joint Declaration is a false proposition. The Chinese and UK governments signed the Joint Declaration in December 1984 to address the issue of the handover of Hong Kong to China. The rights and obligations of the UK laid out in the Joint Declaration were all fulfilled at the time of the handover on 1 July 1997. Using the Joint Declaration as an excuse to interfere in Hong Kong affairs is going against the principles of international law that there should be respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in other country’s internal affairs. With regard to the issue of “British Nationals Overseas (BNO) passport”, I want to point out that the UK has explicitly pledged in an MOU exchanged with China that BNO passport holders who are Chinese citizens residing in Hong Kong shall not have the right of abode in the UK. If the UK is bent on changing this unilaterally, it will not only go against its own position and promise but also violate international law and the basic norms governing international relations.
We urge the UK side to accept the fact that Hong Kong is now part of China, and to observe the principle of non-interference in other country’s internal affairs. Meddling in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs, will be self-defeating.