More than two years into its promulgation, the National Security Law for Hong Kong is still in the crosshairs of China-bashers in the West. Indeed, the law and the subsequently-implemented new electoral system remain a bete noire of many an anti-China politician in the West. And rightly so, because the two measures have made them lose the useful “Hong Kong card” they have repeatedly played not only in their geopolitical strategy to contain China’s rise over recent years but also in their decades-long “peaceful evolution” maneuvers to make China more like the West.
Beijing has every reason to celebrate the complete breakup of the “Hong Kong card” after the introduction of the NSL and the revamped electoral system in the special administrative region, which is essentially one of the “historic achievements” or “historic shifts” in the practice of “one country, two systems”, as Huang Liuquan and Wang Linggui, deputy directors of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, mentioned during Tuesday’s press conference on the successful implementation of “one country, two systems” in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
The two reform measures in Hong Kong’s governance system have, in effect, put the practice of “one country, two systems” back on track, serving its fundamental purpose of safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security and development interests while maintaining the SARs’ long-term stability and prosperity, as President Xi Jinping has repeatedly emphasized on various occasions.
Despite the existence of the clearly declared principle that “well water must not intrude into river water” — meaning that Hong Kong residents must respect the political system on the Chinese mainland, which guides the implementation of “one country, two systems” — the anti-communist and anti-China forces in Hong Kong indulged in subversive activities against the mainland’s political system by leveraging the support of external forces that also have an ax to grind, effectively turning the city into a bridgehead for subversion against China under the guise of promoting democracy.
Beijing has every reason to celebrate the complete breakup of the “Hong Kong card” after the introduction of the NSL and the revamped electoral system in the special administrative region, which is essentially one of the “historic achievements” or “historic shifts” in the practice of “one country, two systems”
The anti-national security (Article 23) legislation campaign in 2003, the anti-national education movement in 2012, the “Occupy Central” campaign in 2014, the yearlong anti-extradition campaign — also known as the “black revolution”, which started in June 2019 — the “Operation ThunderGo”, “Project Storm”, “35-plus primary election” and “mutual destruction” plots — you name it — were all blatant political tricks intended to turn the city into an independent or semi-independent political entity, and to prevent the city from truly integrating with the mainland, to the detriment of national interests, including the integrity of territorial sovereignty and national security.
The “black revolution” riots pushed Hong Kong to the edge of a political abyss, threatening the stability and prosperity of the city. The anti-China external forces and local subversives in Hong Kong forced Beijing’s hand so that it had to introduce the NSL, and to initiate a major reform in the city’s electoral system to put into practice the long-declared precept of “patriots administering Hong Kong”. President Xi had warned during his trip to Hong Kong back in 2017 that “Any attempt to endanger China’s sovereignty and security … or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses the red line.”
Contrary to the China-bashers’ claims of “encroachment” on rights, freedoms or the rule of law of Hong Kong, the NSL and revamped electoral system have facilitated the ability of ordinary Hong Kong residents to enjoy their freedoms and rights better — including the right to physical safety and the freedom to walk around without fear of being attacked by rioters — by restoring peace and order to the city. And in the 2021 Rule of Law Index released by the World Justice Project in November last year, the latest report in an annual series measuring the rule of law based on the experiences and perceptions of those surveyed, Hong Kong ranks 19th among 139 jurisdictions, which is much higher than the ranking of the United States, which stands at 27th. Hong Kong is particularly strong in “Order and Security”, ranking fifth — much higher than the United Kingdom, which ranks 29th.
More importantly, the improvement in Hong Kong’s governance system afforded by the NSL and the revamped electoral system, which together have established the necessary institutional safeguards to ensure that the bottom line of “one country” will be better upheld, has created greater room for the city to operate under “two systems”, as suggested by President Xi in his speech delivered at the July 1 assembly marking the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. Conceivably, Hong Kong will play a bigger role in national development, particularly in strategies such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development, and will benefit from the process in the way it has during the mainland’s reform and opening-up process over the past four decades.
The author is a current affairs commentator.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.