“GIVE CAESAR WHAT BELONGS TO CAESAR,” AND “GIVE CHINA WHAT BELONGS TO CHINA”, (A Pacific Island Perspective)

Editorial

Everyone Deserves to Know the Truth:
For a while now, people from the Pacific have read with wonder about the controversies between the United States and China, but more so the continuous attack of China by the United States, specifically their President Donald Trump. Now the United Kingdom joins the attack. However, one cannot stop thinking if America and the UK have any other more important things to do such as “controlling the outbreak of covid-19” than looking for stones to throw at China. Is it an act of envy? Is it about who controls the world? Or is it simply a strategy to intimidate China’s economic growth. Whatever the reasons are, the curiosity of our Pacific readers prompted our editorial team to carry out some research especially on the issues of “Hongkong-China and the National Security Law.

Hongkong Separation from the Mainland:
Hongkong, including Hongkong Island, Kowloon and the new Territories, have been part of China’s territory since the ancient time. To understand the root of Hong Kong’s separation from the mainland, one must go back to the Opium Wars between Great Britain and China (1839–1860). During these military and trade clashes, China was forced to cede Hong Kong Island and a part of Kowloon to Great Britain in perpetuity. In 1898, Britain negotiated a major land expansion of the Hong Kong colony and signed a 99-year lease with China. The lease ended in 1997, at which time Britain returned Hong Kong to China as a Special Administrative Region (SAR) called the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China.

Hongkong Under the Sovereignty of China:
The transfer of “Sovereignty over Hong Kong to China”, commonly known as the “handover of Hong Kong” (or simply the Handover), occurred at midnight at the start of 1 July 1997, when the United Kingdom ended administration for the colony of Hong Kong and returned control of the territory to China. The handover ceremony was attended by numerous Chinese, British and international dignitaries. From this day on, no States or countries should interfere with Hongkong affairs. Because Hongkong belongs to China from the very beginning and it was taken from China and now returned back to China.

Right of Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies. In international law, sovereignty is the exercise of power by a state. De jure sovereignty refers to the legal right to do so; de facto sovereignty refers to the factual ability to do so.

The interpretation of the concept of Sovereignty therefore clearly spells out that China now has the full Right over Hongkong, i.e. Right to own, Right to rule, Right to control, Right to establish proper government administration, Right to make law and order for the safety of the country and the people, and the list of “Rights” can go on. So realistically, whether or not other countries, individuals, groups etc. don’t agree with the change, the legal handover of Hongkong to China is done, sealed and final. Western countries should therefore do the most respectable thing and let China continue with the development of Hongkong. “Give China what Belongs to China”. In time the world will see Hongkong shines, blooms and become a peaceful place with healthy economy, as a result of being under the sovereignty of China.

However, with all due respect, it was disappointing to learn that the United States of America seems to be possessed with overwhelming “negative-attitudes towards China” that despite the truths, facts and rights, it continues to stir the world to boycott Hongkong’s transfer to China. Is it because America want to rule the world? Or simply to jeopardize China’s economic growth? Moreover, America is well known for not respecting Sovereignty. In previous years, America, with its drones forces, pushed against the borders and sovereign rights of Pakistan, which raised one of the biggest demonstrations in the country that included women and children. Turkey for that matter, rejected a U.S. Congress bill supporting sanctions against Ankara passed by the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee because of disrespect for its “sovereign decisions on national security.”

Seven Principles that Embrace the Hongkong National Security Law:

Before delving into some false accusations of critics with clarifications, a revisit of the seven principles is necessary.

On June the 30th, 2020 The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was passed unanimously at the 20th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature. The main elements of national security law were incorporated in the following 7 articles as drafted by the NPC Standing Committee.

Article 1 states clearly that the country will unswervingly, fully and faithfully implement the principles of “one country, two systems,” “the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong,” and a high degree of autonomy.

Article 2 states clearly that the country resolutely opposes the interference in the HKSAR affairs by any foreign or external forces in any form and will take necessary countermeasures;

Article 3 specifies that it is the HKSAR’s constitutional responsibilities to safeguard national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.

Article 4 specifies that the HKSAR must establish and improve the institutions and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security; when needed, relevant national security organs of the Central People’s Government will set up agencies in the HKSAR to fulfill relevant duties to safeguard national security in accordance with the law;

Article 5 specifies that the HKSAR chief executive must regularly report to the Central People’s Government on the HKSAR’s performance of the duty to safeguard national security, carry out national security education and forbid acts of endangering national security;

Article 6 specifies the constitutional meanings of related legislation of the NPC Standing Committee:

Article 7 specifies that this decision shall go into effect as of the date of promulgation.

Clarifications of False Accusations:
The global community widely share the view that China’s national security legislation for Hong Kong is legally sound and consistent with international common practices. It is driven by the situation on the ground and meets the aspiration of the people. Anyone who wishes Hong Kong a better future would support the NPC’s decision.

However, because of unwarranted accusations by politicians who blatantly interfere with Hong Kong-related affairs, which are purely China’s internal affairs. The editorial would like to bring forward some of their accusations with the truths for readers to know.

Accusation 1: It is not legitimate for China to enact national security legislation for Hong Kong or, in other words, to impose it on Hong Kong.

The truth: The Central Government of China holds the primary and ultimate responsibility for national security, as is the case in any other country. In all countries, unitary and federal alike, the power to legislate on national security rests solely with the central government. And the NPC is the highest organ of state power in China. For example:
(1) Australia has two national security laws, the United Kingdom has three, Canada has five, and the United States alone has more than 20 such laws.

(2) Article 31 of the Chinese Constitution stipulates that, “The state may establish special administrative regions when necessary. The systems to be instituted in special administrative regions shall be prescribed by law enacted by the National People’s Congress in the light of the specific conditions.” As the highest organ of state power, the NPC has both the power and obligation to fulfill its constitutional duty of safeguarding national security in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law based on the reality and needs of the HKSAR. The duty includes enacting national security legislation for the HKSAR and establishing relevant legal system and enforcement mechanisms. The recent decision of the NPC has solid legal grounds and the highest legal effect.

(3) Legislation on national security falls within a state’s legislative power. Through Article 23 of the Basic Law, the Central Government grants the HKSAR certain legislative power on safeguarding national security, which is a very special arrangement under “one country, two systems”. However, it does not change the fact that national security legislation is essentially within the purview of the Central Government, nor does it prevent the Central Government from further developing a legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in light of the actual situation and needs.

Accusation 2: It is not necessary for China to take the action at the moment.
The truth: The current situation makes it imperative to establish and improve, at the state level, the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the HKSAR. The decision is fundamental to the enduring success of “one country, two systems” and is of the greatest urgency. For example:

(1) Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the HKSAR shall enact laws on its own to safeguard national security. Nearly 23 years after Hong Kong’s return to China, however, the relevant legislative process is still not materialized due to the sabotage and obstruction by anti-China, destabilizing elements in Hong Kong as well as hostile forces from the outside. Given this situation, it has become quite difficult, if not impossible, for the HKSAR to enact the relevant laws on its own.

(2) Over the past weeks and months, activities that endanger national security have intensified in the HKSAR, posing notable risks to the long-term prosperity and stability of the Hong Kong and to the security of the country. In particular, since the turbulence over the amendment bill in 2019, the “Hong Kong independence” and radical separatist forces have become further emboldened and escalated their violent terrorist activities. Some separatists even made a public appeal for foreign sanctions against China and invited the US military to Hong Kong. External forces and “Taiwan independence” forces have blatantly ramped up intervention in Hong Kong affairs, which seriously challenges the “one country, two systems” principle, gravely undermines Hong Kong’s law and order, and poses real threats to the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests. Forceful measures are therefore required to prevent, forestall and punish these acts.

Accusation 3: The legislation will undermine “one country, two systems”.
The truth: On the contrary, the legislation will ensure the successful implementation of “one country, two systems”. Article 1 of the NPC’s decision states clearly that the country will unswervingly, fully and faithfully implement the principles of “one country, two systems”, “the people of Hong Kong administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy. For example,

(1) “One country” is the precondition and basis of “two systems”, while “two systems” is subordinate to and derived from “one country”. “One country” is the foundation. Should the principle of “one country” be undermined, “two systems” would be impossible to practice. One important reason for the turbulence in Hong Kong is that the anti-China, destabilizing elements in Hong Kong and external forces have shown no regard for “one country” as the foundation and challenged the bottom line of the “one country, two systems” principle.

(2) The legislation for Hong Kong will not change the “one country, two systems” principle. It will not change the capitalist system or the high degree of autonomy practiced in Hong Kong. It will not change the legal system in the HKSAR. Nor will it affect the HKSAR’s executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication.

Furthermore, on this particular topic, on 5th August 2020, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had an exclusive interview with Xinhua News Agency where he elaborated on clarifications regarding this topic:

“Xinhua: Recently, Hong Kong has become a prominent issue in China-US relations. The US believes that by enacting the national security legislation, China has given up One Country, Two Systems. It has imposed a number of sanctions on Hong Kong. Do you expect the US to make more trouble on the Hong Kong issue?

Wang Yi: Hong Kong is part of China’s territory and Hong Kong affairs fall within China’s internal affairs. Non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs is a basic norm governing international relations, and no country will allow other countries to flagrantly sabotage its sovereignty or territorial integrity. At the recent session of the UN Human Rights Council, over 70 countries expressed support of China’s just stance and condemned the attempts to use the Hong Kong issue to interfere in China’s internal affairs. This speaks volumes for the common and just position of the international community.

National security legislation underpins the very survival of any country, and it is a common legal practice of all countries. The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong has plugged the long-standing legal loopholes in Hong Kong. It will ensure both the long-term implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems on the basis of rule of law and durable security and stability of Hong Kong. Several million residents of Hong Kong signed a petition in support of the legislation, which demonstrates their longing for peace and stability in Hong Kong and their strong support for the national security legislation.

China is committed to the policy of One Country, Two Systems. With the strong support from the mainland, an improved legal environment, and the united efforts of our Hong Kong compatriots, we can surely uphold and better implement the policy of One Country, Two Systems. The gross interference in Hong Kong affairs, be it in words or action, can only undermine the sound implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems. It will meet with the firm rejection from all the Chinese people, including the people of Hong Kong.”

Accusation 4: The legislation will be a violation of China’s international obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The truth: The legal basis for the Chinese government to govern Hong Kong is the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law of the HKSAR. The Sino-British Joint Declaration is not relevant in this regard.
As China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, all provisions concerning the UK under the Joint Declaration had been fulfilled. The basic policies regarding Hong Kong stated by China in the Joint Declaration are not commitments to the UK, but China’s declaration of its policies, which have since been fully embodied in the Basic Law enacted by the NPC. These policies have not changed; they will continue to be upheld by China. For example,

(1) The Constitution, as the fundamental law of China, has supreme legal status and authority. It forms the legal basis for the establishment of special administrative regions and the formulation of the Basic Law of the HKSAR. It is clearly stipulated in the Preamble of the Basic Law that in accordance with China’s Constitution, the NPC enacts Hong Kong’s Basic Law, “prescribing the systems to be practiced in the Hong Kong SAR, in order to ensure the implementation of the basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong”.

(2) The Sino-British Joint Declaration is an important document concerning China’s recovery of Hong Kong and relevant arrangements during the transitional period. It consists of eight paragraphs and three annexes. Paragraph 1 is about China resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. Paragraph 2 is about the UK restoring Hong Kong to China. Both paragraphs were fulfilled with Hong Kong’s return. Paragraph 3 and Annex I are declaration and elaboration of China’s basic policies regarding Hong Kong. Paragraphs 4 to 6 and Annex II and III stipulate arrangements during the transitional period. Paragraphs 7 and 8 are about the Joint Declaration’s implementation and entry into force. With the return of Hong Kong and the completion of follow-up matters, all UK-related provisions have been fulfilled.

(3) The Joint Declaration does not assign the UK any responsibility over Hong Kong nor give it any right to intervene in Hong Kong affairs after the handover. The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or “right of supervision” over Hong Kong after its return. The Joint Declaration is a bilateral instrument between China and the UK; it does not involve any other country or has anything to do with a third country. Sovereign equality and non-interference are enshrined in international law and are basic norms of international relations. Other countries and organizations have no right to meddle in Hong Kong affairs on the grounds of the Joint Declaration.

Accusation 5: The legislation will affect the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents.
The truth: The legislation will not affect the rights and freedoms Hong Kong residents enjoy under the law; it will enable them to enjoy their lawful rights and freedoms in a safe environment. For example,

(1) Fundamentally speaking, safeguarding national security and protecting human rights do not conflict with each other. The NPC’s decision targets only acts of secession, subverting state power and organizing and carrying out terrorist activities that seriously jeopardize national security as well as interference in the HKSAR affairs by external forces. For the majority of law-abiding residents and foreigners in Hong Kong who love the city, there is no need to worry that they might be unfavorably impacted.

(2) All work and law enforcement efforts to safeguard national security will be conducted strictly in accordance with legal provisions, mandates and procedures, without prejudice to the lawful rights and interests of Hong Kong residents, legal persons and other organizations.

Accusation 6: The legislation will erode Hong Kong’s business environment and undermine its position as a global financial center.

The truth is: The legislation will improve Hong Kong’s legal system and bring more stability, stronger rule of law and a better business environment to Hong Kong. It will bolster Hong Kong’s position as a global financial, trading and shipping center.

(1) Only when national security is ensured can the community in Hong Kong enjoy law and order and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability be assured. If Hong Kong is fraught with national security loopholes and plagued by social unrest, investor confidence will be eroded. The turbulence over the amendment bill since last year has cost Hong Kong the title of the world’s freest economy, a title it had held for 25 years. Its GDP contracted for the first time in a decade and unemployment hit a record high in nearly 10 years.

(2) The legislation will not affect the legitimate interests of foreign investors. It will afford better protection to their law-based operations and commercial ties, alleviate the grave concern in the local and foreign business communities about debilitating violence, and create a more reliable and stable law-based business environment for foreign investors.

(3) In 2009, the Macao Special Administrative Region passed a national security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law of the Macao SAR. Between 2009 and 2019, Macao’s GDP grew by 153 percent, the number of inbound tourists increased by 81 percent, and the overall unemployment rate hit a record low in a decade.

Conclusion:
The world at present is going through difficult time with the uncontrollable destruction of covid-19. It breaks up families by taking away lives unsparingly, it takes away wealth and prosperity, it not only ceases the growth of the economy but it also destroys some. People in America and the UK are crying out to their leaders to save them from covid-19 and its consequences, they’re crying out for compensations, unemployment benefits and financial assistance. Poverty and beggars on the roads have become a norm in an American lifestyle now. Could this be a warning call for Leaders of these countries it’s time to “stop interfering” with China and clean up their own backyards. A call from concerned Pacific people, who believe in countries working together in cooperation to build peace and harmony. “Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar” and the world will be a much more peaceful place to live.

Editorial
Tonga Maa Tonga Online News

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