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Beijing May Ask HK Government to Reintroduce Article 23

Article 23 refers to Article 23 of the Basic Law, which states that the Hong Kong Government “shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.” In 2003, the Hong Kong Government made an attempt to pass Article 23. As the Hong Kong people doubted the motivation of the legislation, 500,000 people took to the streets in protest. Since then, the Hong Kong Government has not re-introduced the legislation.

On November 9th, Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council, the official agency coordinating Beijing’s ties with Hong Kong, published an article entitled, “Adhering to and improving the ‘one country, two systems,'” in a way to interpret the decision out of the recently concluded Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. The article stated that Hong Kong’s failure to complete the Article 23 legislation under the Basic Law is one of the reasons for the intensified Hong Kong independence movement in recent years. Zhang emphasized the need to establish and improve the legal system for Hong Kong to safeguard national security. Liu Zhaojia, vice president of the National Hong Kong and Macao Research Association of China, an NGO based in mainland China, commented that, from the perspective of Beijing, many of the actions in the recent anti-extradition law protests involved separatism and external forces, in violation of Article 23. If it had already been legislated, Beijing believes there would be a legal basis for handling the ongoing situation in Hong Kong.

On the pan-democracy camp, Tanya Chan, a Legislative Councilor representing Hong Kong Island and also a founding member of the Civic Party, pointed out that the anti-extradition law movement has nothing to do with Hong Kong independence. Chan criticized Zhang Xiaoming’s words, saying they were pouring oil on the flames. Pressuring the Hong Kong government to push Article 23 legislation will only tear the society further apart.

Source: Central News Agency, November 10, 2019