By Herman Tiu Laurel

Ambassador Huang Xilian on HK security law

HONG Kong (HK) is a crucial economic hub for the world, especially during the next few years when global efforts will be essential to maintain a favorable economic environment if we are to recover rapidly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The situation in Hong Kong (HK) is particularly important for the Philippines where more or less 213,000 Filipino overseas workers have been earning their livelihood for decades while remitting dollars home. At the same time, trade with HK gains the Philippines some $9.97-billion in exports every year.

Even the US, which is now pushing other countries to join its opposition to the National Security Law that the People’s Central Government of China is enacting for HK, has a lot is at stake, including a US $30-billion annual trade surplus with HK and bank deposits up to $146 billion in US banks in HK.

Everybody has very high stakes in HK. This is why China now needs to stabilize the economic-political situation there to avoid even worse instability in the future when the usual elements rooted in the US attempt to escalate, no matter how hopeless, their campaign for separation of the island from China.

President Donald Trump is under very intense pressure from its internal hegemony-oriented faction to intensify the distraction of its own people from on-going internal turmoil by creating more and more external hot spots to draw attention to, with Hongkong being one of several in its crosshairs.

By now, Filipinos should be very familiar with this US strategy as it has also been perennially in the crosshairs of US politicians who continue to raise Human Rights and security issues against President Duterte and Philippines’ security forces, including the police and the AFP.

Similar to the Philippines – which is today upping its security laws with an anti-terror bill now awaiting President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature – China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government is upgrading its security situation with a new National Security Law.

It is fortunate for us in the Philippines that our government is not allowing itself to be pressured by various threats is now being used by the US, such as those used to browbeat other countries like Australia band other US-allied governments, to join the anti-HK National Security Law bandwagon.

China has proved to be a most reliable partner, brother, and supporter of the Philippines through the many crises it has faced in the past few years – from the previous economic and political crises to the current Covid-19 difficulties and later, the incoming post-Covid-19 pandemic recovery challenge.

It is enlightening to hear China’s envoy to the Philippines, Ambassador Huang Xilian share his explanation of China and the HKSAR’s National Security Law. His clear and wise clarifications should reassure us all that the welfare and prosperity of Asia and the Philippines rest on the successful implementation of the new National Security Law for HK.

Following are the answers of Ambassador Huang Xilian to the essential questions raised:

 “As we all know, national security is the very foundation for a country to survive and thrive, and enacting national security legislation is an exercise of a nation’s sacrosanct sovereignty. Over the past years, the risks in safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)have been quite prominent: "Hong Kong Independence" organizations and local radical separatist forces are increasingly rampant, violent and terrorist activities are escalating, intervention by external forces is intensifying, and "Hong Kong Independence" and "Taiwan Independence" are colluding with each other. These criminal acts endangering national security that occurred in the HKSAR are serious violations of the bottom line of the principle of "one country, two systems" and serious deviations from the original intention of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law.”

“The Central Government holds the primary responsibility for upholding the constitutional order in the HKSAR, and ensuring full and faithful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” and the Basic Law. When national security is at peril and the HKSAR Government has difficulty enacting relevant laws on its own because of the forces inciting chaos in Hong Kong and China at large, the Central Government has to act decisively, and enact at the state level national security legislation for Hong Kong.”

“The law draft makes explicit stipulations on what constitutes four categories of criminal acts and their corresponding criminal responsibilities. These include acts of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security—which occur in the HKSAR and must be prevented, stopped and punished.”

“The NPC’s decision is intended to set things right, plug the lethal loopholes in national security in Hong Kong, and reinforce the “One Country” foundation. It is to eradicate all potential obstacles, traps, and threats impeding Hong Kong’s development, ensure Hong Kong to fully leverage the benefits of “Two Systems” while adhering to the “One Country” basis, and uphold Hong Kong citizens’ fundamental interests and extensive rights and freedoms enshrined in the law to the greatest extent possible.”

“National security legislation for Hong Kong will not change the “One Country, Two Systems” policy. It will not change the capitalist system or the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong. It will not change the legal system in the HKSAR. Nor will it affect the independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, exercised by the judiciary in Hong Kong. Legislation will further improve the climate for exchanges and cooperation between Hong Kong and foreign countries, and protect the law-based operation of international businesses here.”

“It will also create a more law-based, reliable, and stable business environment for foreign investors. Only when national security is safeguarded can “One Country, Two Systems” be fully, faithfully and smoothly implemented, can Hong Kong citizens have a sense of security and happiness, can Hong Kong enjoy greater stability and prosperity, and can the interests of all stakeholders, the international community included, be better protected.”

“There are hundreds of thousands of Filipino expatriates working and living in Hong Kong, who are also beneficiaries of "one country, two systems" and Hong Kong's prosperity and stability. Recently, some senior Philippine government officials have made positive statements on Hong Kong's national security legislation, saying that Hong Kong's affairs are purely China's internal affairs and other countries have no right to interfere, China's exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong is conducive to maintaining the long-term peace and stability of Hong Kong, and they hope that Hong Kong will continue to maintain prosperity and stability and require that Philippine citizens in Hong Kong will abide by the Hong Kong National Security Law. We highly appreciate all these righteous statements, which also serve the interests of all the Filipinos.”

We Filipinos – knowing our nation’s welfare and interest lie in a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Hong Kong – should support the efforts of our millennial partner and brother, that I call Kuya China, to explain these issues to our people too.


About the Columnist

Image of Herman Tiu Laurel

Herman Tiu Laurel is a veteran journalist and founder of think tank PHILIPPINE-BRICS Strategic Studies.