Recently, extreme demonstrations and riots have been taking place in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China. Confusingly, some certain western media have avoided mentioning the calls for “ending violence and restoring order” by the vast Hong Kong SAR citizens. Instead, they spared little words on the rule of law and justice, turned a blind eye to the violence of radical demonstrators, expressed sympathy for the violent offenders and accused the Hong Kong SAR police who guarded the social order. Such selective reporting will do no good to help the public understand the truth but only further worsen the situation in Hong Kong SAR. In this article, I would like to clarify the situation and provide the Barbadian friends with a more objective and comprehensive view on the essence of this matter.
The situation in Hong Kong SAR was triggered by a criminal case. In February last year, a Hong Kong SAR resident fled back to Hong Kong SAR after killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, China. As there is no mutual arrangement for legal assistance or extradition arrangement between Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan, the murderer cannot be sent to face trial in Taiwan. In order to fix the loopholes of Hong Kong SAR’s rule of law, the Hong Kong SAR Government proposed to amend its Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance. The Hong Kong SAR Government submitted the draft application to Hong Kong SAR’s Legislative Council in February this year and solicited opinions from all walks of society. The proposed amendments will allow Hong Kong SAR to surrender fugitive offenders to jurisdictions with which it does not currently have extradition arrangements on a case-by-case basis, such as with Mainland China, Macao SAR and Taiwan. The amendments would fill the existing loopholes in the legal system, help crack down on crimes and demonstrate fairness and justice. This is a necessary move to improve the rule of law in Hong Kong SAR and should not cause any controversy. However, this legitimate act was distorted by the opposition and some foreign forces. They used the confusion and doubts of some Hong Kong SAR citizens who are not aware of the truth, spread rumours and created panic in society and triggered large-scale demonstrations.
In order to restore social stability, the Hong Kong SAR Government has decided to suspend the amendments. But the opposition and radical forces in Hong Kong SAR did not stop, instead they deliberately incited violence under the cover of “opposing amendments to the ordinances”. They illegally stormed Hong Kong SAR’s Legislative Council and the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central Government, blatantly insulted the Chinese national flag and emblem and the Hong Kong SAR emblem. They organized massive demonstrations to maliciously block roads, subways and airports to paralyze public traffic, beat visitors and journalists, and assault the police officers even with lethal weapons. The continuous worsening of the situation of Hong Kong SAR has clearly indicated that the demonstration originated by the issues related to the two Ordinances is moving to a “Hong Kong version of a Color Revolution” under the intervention of outside forces. Some of the street fights are changing directions to intentional, premeditated and organized criminal cases which severely threaten the Hong Kong SAR’s public security and challenge the bottom line of the principle of “one country, two systems”. Now, ending violence and restoring order is the most important and most urgent task of the Hong Kong SAR Government as well as the strongest call of most Hong Kong SAR citizens.
Over the past 22 years since Hong Kong SAR’s return to China, the Central Government of China has remained committed to the policies of “one country, two systems”, “the people of Hong Kong SAR governing Hong Kong SAR” and a high degree of autonomy in the Hong Kong SAR, in strict accordance with the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR. Hong Kong SAR has been one of the world’s freest economies for the last 22 years with a stable growth of the GDP. In 2018, Hong Kong SAR’s GDP reached $360 billion US dollars, which is more than two times that in 1996. Hong Kong SAR has been ranked 16th in the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index in 2018, much higher than its 60th position in 1996. However, the recent violent actions happening in Hong Kong SAR have already brought negative impact on Hong Kong SAR’s prosperity. According to the statistics, in July this year, on a year-to-year basis, retail sales in Hong Kong SAR decreased by 11.4 per cent, exports fell 5.7 per cent, and the unemployment rate increased by 2.9 per cent. Hong Kong SAR’s tourism, retail, catering, transportation and other industries are weathering severe impact because of the violent actions. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong SAR citizens’ livelihoods are facing significant challenges.
All of these positive and negative factors are clearly showing that the “one country, two systems” is the best institutional arrangement for maintaining Hong Kong SAR’s long-term prosperity and stability. However, it has to be emphasized that the principle of “one country, two systems” is an integral concept. “One country” is the fundamental precondition of “two systems”. Discussing “two systems” while putting aside “one country” is a challenge to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Certainly it will also harm the fundamental interests of the Hong Kong SAR.
The rule of law is a core value that Hong Kong SAR people take pride in. It is the foundation for Hong Kong SAR’s sound business environment as well as the cornerstone of its prosperity and stability. Under the rule of law, all laws must be observed and all offenders must be held accountable. It is impossible for any country to accept democracy and freedom unbounded by law. Conniving violence is encouraging the violation of law and undermining the rule of law. In order to stop the violent actions as well as to correspond to Hong Kong SAR people’s call for ending violence and restoring order, the Government of Hong Kong SAR, under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, has recently put in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation to ban the use of facial covering in public rallies which may prevent the Hong Kong SAR police from identifying the demonstrators. Similar regulations already exist in many countries. Putting in place the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation does not prevent Hong Kong SAR citizens from fulfilling their rights and freedom including the freedom of assembly. It is actually a way of protection for citizens in peaceful assembly and procession.
The same as it is in Hong Kong SAR, tourism is a fundamental industry in Barbados. I believe Barbadian friends know exactly the importance of stable social order and a sound business environment which influences the prosperity of the tourism industry, as well as the economic development and betterment of people’s livelihood. Therefore, ending violence, restoring order and safeguarding prosperity is the appeal of the vast majority of Hong Kong SAR people and the most urgent task facing the Hong Kong SAR and also meeting the interests of the international community.
The Central Government of China will continue to unswervingly implement the “one country, two systems” policy, fully support the Hong Kong SAR executive-led governance and the Hong Kong SAR communities in dealing with difficulties and challenges so as to safeguard Hong Kong SAR’s rule of law, stability and prosperity. It is firmly believed that the Hong Kong SAR judiciary and the police force will resolutely defend the rule of law in Hong Kong SAR. Hong Kong SAR affairs are purely China’s internal affairs. The Government of China will never allow any external forces to intervene in Hong Kong SAR affairs and undermine Hong Kong SAR’s prosperity and stability. I sincerely hope that the Barbadian friends could support the Hong Kong SAR Government and its people to say NO to the violence, to protect the rule of law and restore social order in a timely manner and to pave the way for its economic development and the improvement of people’s livelihood so as to create a brighter future for Hong Kong SAR.
H.E. Yan Xiusheng is the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Barbados
The post Sticking to principle of “one country, two systems” appeared first on Barbados Today.