Why Passing National Security Legislation for HKSAR is Necessary
The national security legislation for Hong Kong SAR has piqued interest in the West during the Two Sessions. The draft bill was bombarded with criticism from Western politicians and media.
Could the legislation really erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom?
“Many who take an overly critical position towards Beijing typically see things too narrowly from a local perspective. In fact, increasingly, foreign countries are treating Hong Kong as part of China. Realistically, Hong Kong will need to draw closer to [the Chinese mainland] for the wellbeing of both. American media today think it means the end of Hong Kong. I think we can argue that these really amount to little more than crocodile tears,” Josef Gregory Mahoney, professor at East China Normal University, told CGTN.
Safeguarding national security does not contradict protection of freedoms. The Hong Kong Basic Law addresses national security in Article 23. But Article 23 was deliberately stigmatized, and when it came before HKSAR’s legislature in 2003, it was not enacted. Opponents insisted it threatened the city’s autonomy and staged mass protests.
Since then, Hong Kong has not attempted to pass a national security bill. This means there’s a huge loophole in the city’s legal system. From the Occupy Central Movement in 2014 to attacks against national emblems in 2019 and terror-like assaults against civilians in opposition to the protests, radical separatists repeatedly used the loophole to challenge China’s national security.
The legislation is an attempt to close the loophole and support the SAR’s peace and prosperity.
“Hong Kong is a bridge between [the Chinese mainland] and the outside world. Hong Kong is still one of the largest financial centers in the world. Chinese consumer spending in Hong Kong has really supported Hong Kong’s prosperity. So it’s unfortunate to see that a small group of people in Hong Kong seek the independence of Hong Kong, which I think is really ridiculous,” Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, said.
He added that “the chaos and riots in Hong Kong must be stopped. So the government has to do something, and also the legislative body has to pass some resolutions.”
Since Hong Kong’s return to China, the West has repeatedly sought to stir up trouble. These anti-China forces became increasingly provocative in 2019. In May 2019, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with several protesters. In October 2019, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz wore black to show support for the protesters. On October 15, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. On November 19, 2019, the Act was passed by the Senate.
“There’s always been sort of this apocalyptic stance towards China about China taking over Hong Kong (in 1997),” Mahoney said, adding that there is a very strange phenomenon that “increasingly, the United States and China actually have a lot more in common with each other in terms of their younger generations, in terms of how technology is transforming society, how culture is working. So, the irony is that through globalization there’s actually a lot more in common, but in some perverse way that terrifies people in Washington who have depended historically on emphasizing differences to maintain these old patterns of hegemony.”
Old patterns of hegemony have no place in today’s world. The legislation is aimed at safeguarding national security; it has nothing to do with infringements on freedom.
Afghan Taliban Announce Three-Day Eid Ceasefire
The Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire during the Eid al-Fitr holiday starting Sunday in a surprise move following months of bloody fighting with Afghan forces after the group signed a landmark agreement with the US.
President Ashraf Ghani swiftly welcomed the insurgents’ offer and ordered his forces to also comply.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement posted on social media that the group’s “leadership instructs all the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate to take special measures for security of the countrymen, and conduct no offensive operation against the enemy anywhere.”
The statement, which announced a halt to hostilities “during the three days of Eid,” instructed Taliban fighters to refrain from entering government areas and also said that Kabul forces were not allowed to enter territories under their control.
Since the US invasion in 2001 there has only been one other pause in the fighting — a surprise three-day ceasefire between the Taliban and Kabul marking the religious festival of Eid in 2018.
That ceasefire call was given by President Ashraf Ghani, which the insurgents had accepted.
During the brief lull in fighting at that time, Afghans responded joyfully, with Taliban fighters, security forces and civilians hugging, sharing ice creams and posing for selfies in previously unimaginable scenes.
Ghani was quick to accept the Taliban ceasefire offer.
“I welcome the ceasefire announcement by the Taliban,” he said on Twitter.
“As commander-in-chief, I have instructed ANDSF (Afghan National Defence Security Force) to comply with the three-day truce and to defend only if attacked.”
Saturday’s announcement comes just days after the Taliban’s leader Haibatullah Akhundzada urged Washington “not to waste” the opportunity offered by the deal the militants signed with the United States in February that set the stage for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.
“The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement… and urges the other side to honour its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity to go to waste,” Akhundzada said in a statement, using the Taliban’s name for Afghanistan.
The signing of the deal between the US and Taliban was preceded by a so-called “reduction in violence” but not an official ceasefire.
– US pushes for peace –
The US-Taliban deal is also aimed at paving the way for the insurgents to hold direct peace talks with Kabul.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has made it a priority to end the war in Afghanistan, and in a bid to pull out foreign forces US officials have been pushing the Taliban and government leaders to hold peace talks.
Analysts however say the Taliban have been emboldened by the deal with the US, and Afghan government officials have reported more than 3,800 attacks since it was signed, killing 420 civilians and wounding 906.
But the top US official who brokered Washington’s deal with the Taliban says the insurgents have kept up their end of the bargain — even if recent violence violated the spirit of the accord.
“The Taliban have implemented their agreement not to attack the coalition forces,” US Special Representative to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said earlier this month.
His remarks came after a horrific attack against a maternity hospital in Kabul that killed dozens — including mothers and infants — and a suicide bombing at a funeral.
The Taliban denied involvement in the attacks, but President Ghani blamed them and the Islamic State (IS) group for the bloodshed.
Following that attack and another suicide bombing in the country’s east the government ordered security forces to switch to an “offensive” posture against the Taliban.
The Taliban responded by vowing to increase attacks against government forces.
The group has carried out regular attacks against Afghan forces in recent days, and earlier this week even tried to enter the northern city of Kunduz.
Afghan forces, however, managed to repel the Taliban attack on Kunduz, a city which had fallen to the insurgents twice before.
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