Editor’s note: On June 30, China’s top legislature, the Standing Committee of China’s 13th National People’s Congress passed the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Despite apocalyptic headlines on Western media predicting the end of Hong Kong since, many in the city have supported it on the basis that it would bring stability back. Regina Ip, a member of HK Executive Council and Legislative Council, shares her views with CGTN on why the law is much needed. She also argues that this event resembles many of those the city has been through in the past where, despite some people’s pessimistic prediction, the city was always able to continue being prosperous and successful. Opinions expressed in the video are hers, and not necessarily those of CGTN.
CGTN: Why has Beijing decided to enact the National Security Law for Hong Kong?
Ip: We have loopholes in our legislation. We don’t have the offense of subversion, secession, or laws against local terrorism, or laws against foreign and external interference. So we need to block these loopholes in our legal system.
Every country has a right to protect itself. The U.S. have at least 20 statutes targeting espionage, national security interception, external interference. It’s common for countries to have a full range of the necessary legislation.
And events in Hong Kong in the past year, pretty violent and pretty dangerous, clearly show that there are national security threats to China, including Hong Kong, and there are internal security issues in Hong Kong. So to object to the Chinese mainland taking actions to protect herself, as well as to help Hong Kong restore order, is totally unreasonable.
Western media and a lot of Western politicians have been spinning a fake narrative about what’s been happening in Hong Kong. They have romanticized law breakers like Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Martin Lee as freedom fighters, democracy advocates. But what they have done in Hong Kong is really to suppress other people’s rights and freedoms, to damage property, and to tear apart the social fabric of our society. So Western media and a lot of Western politicians have shown, displayed, a highly biased and unfair view of Hong Kong, which we really need to keep rebutting.
CGTN: What would you say to those who believe the law will spell the end of “One Country, Two Systems?”
Ip: The death of “One Country, Two systems” has become a cliche. The foreign media has said at the time, before 1997, the Fortune magazine forecast the death of Hong Kong. But we have always bounced back.
I think the past few decades because of Hong Kong’s reunification, reabsorption into China, many have predicted that our separate lifestyle, separate systems will cease to exist.
In fact, in the past 40 years, there have been many crises of confidence and brain drain, people trying to emigrate. But those who left have all come back. The money which left has come back. Hong Kong continued to be prosperous and successful, despite some short-term setbacks.
So I believe that, in spite of some short-term worries about this new legislation, with the nation’s backing for Hong Kong, we will be able to bounce back economically, socially, and internationally.
CGTN: Why do you think some Hong Kong people feel their democracy and freedoms are being threatened?
Ip: Many of them have been brainwashed and misled into thinking that the central government has been suppressing our rights and freedoms.
On the other hand, if you look at the situation in the British era, they did not start promoting democracy until they were about to hand Hong Kong back to China. And in the past 23 years, we have made much more progress in expanding universal suffrage than in the 165 years of British rule.
So Beijing has actually been more liberal to Hong Kong than the previous British rulers, but a lot of western politicians and media have been promoting the narrative that Beijing is holding back democratic development, despite the fact that it is clearly stated in the Basic Law that our democratic development must proceed in accordance with the provisions in the basic law, that is in a gradual and orderly manner and in the light of the actual situation, which are very reasonable. So I think, again, a lot of unfair allegations have been leveled at Beijing and at Hong Kong.
CGTN: What do you think of the issue of police brutality during last year’s HK protests?
Ip: The allegations of police brutality against Hong Kong is the most unfair part of their allegations, in my opinion, because if you look at Hong Kong, despite a whole year of pretty violent protests, our police have not fatally injured anyone. Not a single person has been killed by our police.
On the other hand, recently, three policemen, as soon as they were off duty, died of exhaustion. One innocent bystander has been killed with a brick by the protesters, and one innocent worker has been set on fire. Our policemen have adhered to the principle of using minimum force. Our policemen are much more restrained compared to the much crueler and cruder policing methods of American and even European policeman.
Xi-Biden Call Analysis: Cooperation Should be Based Upon Mutual Respect
In the first phone conversation between the leaders of the world’s two biggest economies in seven months, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday morning had a “candid, in-depth and extensive strategic communication and exchanges” with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, according to a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
“On the basis of respecting each other’s core concerns and properly managing differences, the relevant departments of the two countries may continue their engagement and dialogue to advance coordination and cooperation on climate change, COVID-19 response and economic recovery as well as on major international and regional issues,” Xi told Biden.
White House officials said Biden initiated the 90-minute phone call, which is only the second of this kind since the U.S. president took office.
There had been high expectations for Biden to improve bilateral relations ever since he replaced former President Donald Trump in January.
Biden’s China journey four decades on
Biden came to China in 1979 as a member of the first delegation the U.S. Congress sent to China. The then senator said in a speech that China’s development was good for the United States.
He visited China again in 2011, and wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “a successful China can make our country [U.S.] more prosperous, not less.”
“On issues from global security to global economic growth, we share common challenges and responsibilities – and we have incentives to work together,” read the article titled “China’s Rise Isn’t Our Demise.”
In his first phone call with Xi on the eve of the Chinese New Year in February this year, Biden sent his greetings to the Chinese people. He said he was prepared to have candid and constructive dialogue with China in the spirit of mutual respect and to improve mutual understanding and avoid miscommunication and miscalculation.
Yet such goodwill failed to match up with the actions, according to Yuyuantantian, a public WeChat account that focuses on current affairs. And hostility has been particularly evident in the U.S. Congress.
In recent months, there have been more China-related bills in the U.S. Congress than ever before, with more than a dozen in July alone, most of which recommended the adoption of opposing or restrictive policies against China.
The U.S. has made a major strategic miscalculation on China, said Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, as quoted in the Yuyuantantian article. “It mistakenly takes China as a major strategic competitor and believes whatever China does is aimed at undermining the U.S. leadership and dominating the international order.”
Xi has said China and the United States will have different views on some issues, but the key is to respect each other and treat each other as equals. But the U.S. has yet to learn to do that, according to Yuyuantantian.
‘Whether China, U.S. can handle their relationship well bears on the future of the world’
China and the United States are respectively the biggest developing country and the biggest developed country, whether they can handle their relationship well bears on the future of the world, and it is a question of the century to which the two countries must provide a good answer, Xi said in the Friday phone conversation.
The two countries should bring relations back to the right track of stable development as soon as possible for the good of the people in both countries and around the world, he added.
How to get China-U.S. relations back on track has become a “must-solve problem,” Yuyuantantian commented, adding that the ball is now in the U.S. court.
Washington is gradually losing its reputation all around the world, the public account said. “If it really wants cooperation, it has to ‘get off its high horse,’ face the reality and start an open dialogue with China,” it added.
Through the lens: How 20 Years of Conflict Since 9/11 Changed Afghanistan
The Afghanistan war ended just as abruptly as it had begun. Two decades ago, the September 11 terrorist attacks led the U.S. to formulate its controversial counter-terrorism policy, including its longest war in history – the war in Afghanistan.
Twenty years later, the mountainous country nestled in the heartland of Asia has once again come to a crossroads as the U.S. withdrew its troops, with the Taliban reclaiming the power they lost two decades ago.
Afghanistan has long been a battlefield for global powers, but it has never been conquered, hence its moniker – the “Graveyard of Empires.”
In the series “Through the lens: Afghanistan 2001-2021,” we dive into the scars the war has left on the country, and the fear, wrath and resilience of the Afghan people, in eight episodes.
The September 11 attacks claimed some 3,000 lives, making it the deadliest attack in U.S. history.
The U.S. military invaded the country, already war-plagued and impoverished, in the name of the “war on terror.”
In decades of war and destitution, opium poppy plantation and production have become a major source of income for local farmers. “Either Afghanistan destroys opium, or opium will destroy Afghanistan,” former Afghan President Hamid Karzai once said.
In the protracted war in Afghanistan, no one suffered more than Afghan civilians. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee from homes with no shelter and rarely any food.
Wars after wars have made migration a norm for the Afghan people. As of 2021, Afghanistan is the third largest source of refugees in the world, with the number of Afghan refugees standing at 2.6 million. Domestically, 4 million internally displaced persons are still in temporary camps.
In the capital, Kabul, there are only two kinds of people – the rich and the poor.
On April 14, Biden announced the U.S. troop withdrawal would be completed by September 11, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked the invasion. In the months that followed, the country witnessed massive chaos.
How the new Afghan government deals with the wide range of social, political and economic issues will determine how an Afghanistan under the Taliban will be received by the Afghan people and the world.
Editors: Zeng Ziyi, Zhao Yue, Wang Xiaonan, Yu Jing, Zhong Xia, Du Junzhi
Images designed by Liu Shaozhen
Graphics by Yang Yiren
Producer: Wang Xiaonan
Xi Jinping Urges ‘True Multilateralism’ in World’s ‘Daunting’ Economic Recovery from COVID-19
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday said the world economy is undergoing a “daunting recovery” which requires “true multilateralism” in the face of fresh COVID-19 flare-ups.
“We are ready to work with all parties to uphold true multilateralism, advocate trust and harmony, promote win-win cooperation, and march with firm steps toward the goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind,” Xi said at the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the sixth Eastern Economic Forum via video link from Beijing.
The forum – held in Russia every year since 2015 – has the goal of promoting multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Last year’s session was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the speech, Xi called for the international community to unite. “We need to intensify cooperation in vaccine research, development and production, provide more public goods to the international community,” he said.
The Chinese president also voiced opposition to any sort of politicization of COVID-19 vaccines and origins-tracing.
Extra efforts for mutually-beneficial cooperation
“We need to redouble our efforts to advance mutually-beneficial cooperation,” Xi said at the opening ceremony.
He called for the deepening of collaboration between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union in areas including digital economy and climate change.
The Chinese president also urged the group to embrace a “common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security” by “narrowing differences” and “building consensus through dialogue and exchanges.”
As Friday marks the 76th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, Xi also called for the defense of the victory’s outcomes.
“The international community must defend firmly the victorious outcomes of World War II, safeguard the truth of history, and stay committed to taking history as a mirror to open up a brighter future,” Xi said.
(Cover: Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the opening ceremony of the sixth Eastern Economic Forum via video link, September 3, 2021. /Xinhua)
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