National security law: Beijing appoints tough-talking party official Zheng Yanxiong to lead powerful new agency in HK

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

Chanting the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times” may not violate the new national security law, a pro-Beijing figure said on Friday, just hours after the local government defined the chant as an expression of support for independence as it warned people not to break the law.

Maria Tam Wai-chu, vice-chairwoman of the Basic Law Committee, also noted that Hong Kong’s mini-constitution and the national security law shared the same legal status as national legislation, meaning the latter could overrule the former when necessary.

Zheng Yanxiong, the new head of Beijing’s national security office in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout

Zheng Yanxiong, the new head of Beijing’s national security office in Hong Kong. Photo: Handout

Hong Kong national security law: What is it about? Read the full text

Speaking on a radio programme, Tam said using the slogan on its own would not automatically fall within the scope of the new law Beijing had imposed on Hong Kong.

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But further investigation would be required to see if any violence or incitement was involved that could amount to criminality, Tam said.

A government spokesman on Thursday night said the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times”, commonly heard at anti-government protests, implied a call for the city’s independence. That statement came as he urged people “not to defy the law”, which prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign and external forces.

“The slogan … nowadays connotes ‘Hong Kong independence’, or separating the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from the People’s Republic of China, altering the legal status of the HKSAR, or subverting state power,” the spokesman said in a statement. Tam said she was always against the slogan, as she found it “problematic”, questioning if those who chanted it wanted to topple the central government, which is sovereign over Hong Kong.

She said the popular protest song Glory to Hong Kong, which counts “Liberate Hong Kong” and “revolution of our times” among its lyrics, raises similar questions.

“The meaning of liberating means that a certain place which belongs to me [was taken away] by some people, maybe unlawfully or by force, or by whatever means … but I’m going to retrieve it,” Tam said. “As far as we are concerned, Hong Kong belongs to China.”

But she said those who chant the slogan may not automatically violate any of the security law’s four designated offences.

Hong Kong national security law full text

“We still have to see if the person who chanted the slogan has participated in other violent acts, or if the person was involved in arranging or organising other actual moves,” she said.

“By only chanting ‘Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times’, the act itself would not violate any of the four offences. What it means is that an investigation could be triggered to further look into what circumstances the person chanted the slogan.”

Tam reiterated the Hong Kong government’s stance that the new law would only “target a small minority of offenders”, stressing that by “looking at the full picture” of anyone suspected of violations, only a few would be convicted.

On the same radio programme, Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, who represents the legal sector in the legislature, said he worried a government ban on “Liberate Hong Kong” slogans could lead to candidates being disqualified from September’s Legislative Council election.

National security law: Beijing appoints tough-talking party official Zheng Yanxiong to lead powerful new agency in Hong Kong

“The government can disqualify many district councillors, lawmakers, and even those who are going to run in the election. It is obvious that the national security law will be used as a tool to disqualify candidates,” Kwok said.

Meanwhile, Tam also defended the law’s numerous new provisions, including the Financial Secretary being granted the right to appropriate funds from government coffers for national security purposes, saying they were only to ensure the law was enacted effectively.

“The requirements [under the new law] … are not unreasonable,” she said. “Both the Basic Law and the national security law are national laws. Although the national security law came later, the later law can still have an overriding effect on an earlier law.

“Amendments may be made to the older law if necessary … but it would not mean the [national security law] has changed the Basic Law.”



Category: China, Hong Kong

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