HK’s national security law no concern for law-abiding groups, Carrie Lam says after Amnesty International reveals exit plans

27-Oct-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

No organisation should be worried about the national security law if they are operating legally in Hong Kong, the city’s leader has said after Amnesty International cited the legislation in revealing plans to shut its local offices.

The human rights group on Monday said it would leave Hong Kong by the end of the year, as the Beijing-imposed law made it “effectively impossible” to do its work without fear of “serious reprisals” from the government.

Asked to comment on that decision, Lam on Tuesday said that under Article 27 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, Hong Kong residents’ freedoms, including that of speech, association and assembly, were guaranteed.

“No organisation should be worried about their legitimate operations in Hong Kong, but it has to be done in accordance with the law,” she said, adding that only individuals or groups that endangered national security had cause for concern.

Dozens of activists, including former opposition lawmakers, have been arrested and some of the city’s largest unions and activist organisations have disbanded since the June 2020 imposition of the security legislation, which outlaws acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

But the law’s primary aim “is not just to arrest people and punish people, it also has a very laudable objective to prevent and suppress”, Lam continued.

“So if there are individuals and organisations that have been using Hong Kong to spread news or engage in activities… [that] are undermining national security, then of course they would need to be worried.”

Lam noted that figures released earlier this month showed the number of overseas and mainland companies setting up offices in Hong Kong had reached a record high of more than 9,000.

According to the survey, such firms in the city increased by 10 per cent, from 8,225 in 2017 to 9,049 in 2021. Of that group, 5,109 were operating as local offices, 2,483 as regional offices and 1,457 as regional headquarters.

Mainland Chinese companies, at 2,080, accounted for the largest group, followed by firms from Japan (1,388), the United States (1,267) and Britain (667).

Those numbers proved the national security law “had not prevented or horrified people from doing their legitimate business in Hong Kong”, Lam said, adding that the recent overhaul of the city’s electoral system and Beijing’s ongoing support had also helped foster a favourable business environment.

“All these are very positive elements that any corporation, whether local, mainland or overseas, will definitely take into account in deciding whether they want to set up an office or do business in Hong Kong,” she said.


Category: Hong Kong

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