HK national security law: head of Anglican Church in city says new legislation won’t undermine religious freedom

14-Jul-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The head of the Anglican Church in Hong Kong has expressed his support for the new national security law, and said the legislation would not undermine any freedom or religious organisations in the city.

In a 900-word letter sent to British Christian newspaper Church Times, Archbishop Paul Kwong also criticised foreign governments for sanctioning Hong Kong, or offering passports to those fearing persecution if they remained.

“These actions hurt Hong Kong and support those who have supported or committed acts of violence in protests last year. Such actions are not expressions of Christian charity but of anti-China sentiment,” he wrote.

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Kwong has been a local delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top advisory body, since 2013.

In a rare interview with the Post in 2016, he said his role on the CPPCC did not affect his views.

Hong Kong has a Catholic congregation of about 400,000, and a Protestant congregation of about 500,000. The Anglican Church, known locally as the Sheng Kung Hui, has about 40,000 followers and is one of the most influential denominations.

Last month, China’s top legislative body imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, prohibiting acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.

Beijing officials said the legislation was necessary after anti-government protests swept through Hong Kong last year.

But legal experts and human rights activists said the law could undermine the people’s rights and freedoms, and threaten the existence of foreign businesses and NGOs in the city.

Citing the social unrest, Kwong said: “I welcome this law, although it is one that I wish was not necessary… What I hope the new law will do is diminish the agitation against the government that last year brought things to a standstill, and to restore law and order.

“It does not undermine any freedom of Hong Kong, in particular the freedom of religion. It does not affect the church or any other religious organisation.”

Kwong said since Macau, which was returned from Portuguese to Chinese rule in 1999, enacted its own national security law, it “has not experienced any curtailment of religious freedom”.

The archbishop said while some members of Hong Kong churches were against the legislation, “most religious leaders have not taken a position of opposition to the national security law”.

He added: “I know that our position about this law contradicts that of many in the West, but we believe this is what is best for us, and we ask countries overseas not to interfere in our affairs.”

Kwong accused Western media and politicians of having a biased narrative on Beijing.

“China is consistently portrayed as evil, trying to destroy everything that is Hong Kong whereas the British or American government is praised as the benevolent protector and saviour of Hong Kong,” he said.

“In fact, China has been helping and supporting Hong Kong and our people all these years. We are part of China. We benefit in everything from our trading status, to our supply of food and utilities, to our special and preferential place within the broader Chinese polity.”

Also on Monday, former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing accused Britain and other countries of making groundless accusations that Beijing had violated the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which set out the terms of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty, by imposing the national security law on the city.

“They didn’t provide any evidence to support their accusations. I even doubted whether they had read the declaration… Time will tell whether the rights of Hongkongers will be undermined,” he told an online talk show.

But Tsang said that the Chinese government had “overreacted” after officials threatened to block Hongkongers from leaving the city in response to Britain, Australia and Canada announcing plans to offer them a path to citizenship.


Category: Hong Kong

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