Skip to content

Beijing Made Clear its Right to Intervene in National Security Cases in Hong Kong

In Shenzhen, on Monday June 15th, The Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies (CAHKMS), a government think tank under the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, held a forum on the Hong Kong Basic Law. Deng Zhonghua, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Office, mentioned in his speech that both the central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government need to establish agencies to maintain national security, and that the central government will supervise and guide relevant work in Hong Kong. Deng emphasized that most of the law enforcement and judicial work should be completed by the HKSAR government, but the central government will retain jurisdiction over some cases.

Deng added, “The central government has jurisdiction over crimes against national security in the HKSAR. It must have an effective control and produce effective deterrence. It cannot be merely shouting some slogans or putting on some show. The central government should also, under extremely special circumstances, retain the power to exercise jurisdiction over crimes in the region that seriously endanger national security. Of course, very few cases will come under the jurisdiction of the central government, which will not take over the responsibilities of the relevant authorities in the HKSAR; nor will it affect the independent judicial power and final adjudication power enjoyed by the HKSAR under the Basic Law.”

Billy Li, a Hong Kong barrister and Convener of the Progressive Lawyers Group, a pro-democracy civil group formed by legal professionals, commented that, “If the (central government) enforces the law in Hong Kong, I think it is a violation of the Hong Kong Basic Law. Judicial, administrative and legislative rights are all part of Hong Kong’s autonomy, as codified by the Basic Law. Once (the central government) enforces the law in Hong Kong, even if it (the central government) adjudicates these cases, it is violating the autonomous rights of Hong Kong.”

Johannes Chan, Chair Professor of Law and former Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong, also pointed out that if the national security organs can supervise and guide the work of Hong Kong agencies, this will almost completely destroy the “two systems.” It is equivalent to the “nationalization” of Hong Kong’s autonomy and will change the Basic Law beyond recognition. Chan expressed concern about Deng Zhonghua’s remarks, that if the mainland’s national security organs exercise jurisdiction in Hong Kong, it would mean the one-stop process of arrest, investigation, trial, sentencing, and even the procedure of imprisonment.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council member Dennis Kwok expressed strong opposition to the possibility of transferring national security cases to the mainland for trial. Kwok asked, “Why can some cases suddenly be handled without going through the jurisdiction of the Hong Kong courts? Article 19 of the Basic Law makes it clear that the HKSAR has jurisdiction over all cases (in Hong Kong). That is to say, all cases related to Hong Kong must be tried in the Hong Kong courts. This further proves that the ‘National Security Law’ is unconstitutional and illegal.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, June 15, 2020