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 Jinping Reviews Poverty Relief Progress in Hunan as China’s War on Poverty Nears End
Among the 529 residents in a small village in central China’s Hunan Province, 95 in 30 households used to live under the poverty line. The whole village was lifted out of poverty through rural tourism in 2018, and the average annual income of the residents reached 13,840 yuan (about 2,060 U.S. dollars) last year – way above the national poverty line of 2,300 yuan (about 340 U.S. dollars).
Shazhou Village, located in a mountainous area in Rucheng County, Chenzhou City, was the first stop of Xi’s inspection tour in Hunan.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, visited the village on Wednesday and learned about poverty relief industries and progress in consolidating poverty eradication at a modern agricultural tourism demonstration base.
Chinese President Xi Jinping learns about poverty relief industries and progress in consolidating poverty eradication at a modern agricultural tourism demonstration base in Shazhou Village, Rucheng County, central China’s Hunan Province, September 16, 2020. /Xinhua
Targeted poverty alleviation
China has adopted a targeted approach in in its poverty alleviation campaign, which means taking tailored relief measures to fit different local conditions.
The story of Shazhou is a prime example of that approach. The village boasts the beautiful scenery of the Luoxiao Mountains and the unique Yao ethnic culture – nearly two thirds of the residents belong to the Yao ethnic group. Tourism has played a significant role in Shazhou’s battle against poverty.
The village has promoted rural tourism and high-quality fruit planting, and arranged training programs to help villagers obtain such job skills as for restaurant cooks and rural tourism industry employees. More than 350 local jobs have been created through the efforts.
With all its residents lifted out of poverty, Shazhou has also been known for such national-level honor as the “village of beauty and leisure,” “role model for ethnic unity and progress,” “key village for promoting rural tourism” and “traditional Chinese village.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping talks with residents of Shazhou Village, Rucheng County, central China’s Hunan Province, September 16, 2020. /Xinhua
New starting point
Since the 18th CPC National Congress in late 2012, China has achieved remarkable results in poverty reduction. More than 93 million rural people shook off poverty between 2013 and 2019.
But 5.51 million people needed to get rid of poverty by the end of 2019. And such a formidable task was coincided by accident with the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking at a symposium on poverty alleviation in March, Xi described the goal of ending absolute poverty by 2020 as a “solemn pledge” made by the CPC Central Committee to the Chinese people, urging authorities at all levels to deliver on that promise.
As China intensifies efforts in the final stage of the tough battle, Xi tours around the country to inspect economic and social development, with poverty alleviation high on the agenda. Prior to the Hunan trip, he had taken inspection tours this year of capital city Beijing and provinces of Yunnan, Hubei, Zhejiang, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Jilin and Anhui, and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
In addition to increasing poor people’s incomes, China is also striving to improve the quality of poverty relief. Xi has repeatedly called for efforts to ensure rural poor people do not have to worry about food and clothing and have access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks with villagers in the village of Shazhou, Rucheng County, central China’s Hunan Province, September 16, 2020. /Xinhua
Meanwhile, he is looking into the future beyond the end of poverty. “Being lifted out of poverty is not an end in itself but the starting point of a new life and a new pursuit,” he said on several occasions this year, calling for consolidating achievements in poverty alleviation and advancing the rural vitalization strategy.
Put forward at the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017, the strategy aims to build rural areas with thriving businesses, pleasant living environments, social etiquette and civility, effective governance and prosperity.
Shazhou is among many previously poor villages in China that have embarked on the journey for a better future.
From ‘saplings’ to ‘towering trees’
On Wednesday, Xi also visited a revolution-themed exhibition hall, a village service center, a clinic, a primary school and the homes of villagers in Shazhou.
The exhibition chronicles the story of an impoverished villager named Xu Jiexiu, who offered shelter to three female Red Army soldiers during the Long March in the 1930s. Upon the soldiers’ departure, they cut their only quilt in halves, leaving one part with Xu to show their care.
Xi said the CPC owes its achievements to the people’s support, vowing to further improve the people’s wellbeing.
While inspecting the village service center, he stressed the effectiveness of primary-level public services. The center should provide targeted services for local residents according their needs, he told workers there.
At the primary school, the president encouraged students to make progress every day and grow from “saplings” into “towering trees” of the Chinese nation.
Coronavirus Largest Health Crisis
The novel coronavirus pandemic is the largest global health crisis of the past decades, and China was the first country to be hit by COVID-19.
When the lives of 1.4 billion people were put under threat by the virus, China locked down Wuhan, once the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
But how did the virus spread throughout the city? And what led to the unprecedented lockdown? CGTN launches “The Frontline: China’s Fight Against COVID-19”, a 90-minute-long two-part documentary.
In part one, the initial outbreak and the following two months are explored, and how a city of 11 million came to a standstill.
Xi Jinping: China, EU Should Be Committed To Multilateralism, Dialogue
China and the European Union (EU) should be committed to peaceful coexistence, openness and cooperation, multilateralism and dialogue, and consultation, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday, calling on the two sides to firmly promote the healthy and stable development of their comprehensive strategic partnership.
Xi made the remarks while co-hosting a China-Germany-EU leaders’ meeting on Monday evening in Beijing via video link with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the process, Xi said, adding that humanity is standing at a new crossroads.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of China-EU diplomatic ties, and this was the second video meeting between Chinese and EU leaders in less than three months. It also comes after recent visits by senior Chinese diplomats to EU member states such as Italy, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Greece.
During the meeting, the leaders announced the official signing of the China-EU Geographical Indications (GI) Agreement.
GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. The agreement is expected to prevent counterfeiting of GI and enable consumers on both sides to eat and use authentic high-quality products.
The two sides also vowed to accelerate the negotiation of the China-EU investment agreement and reaffirmed the goal of concluding the negotiation by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Xi and the European leaders decided to establish a China-EU high-level dialogue on environment and climate, and one in the digital field, in order to build a green partnership and a digital cooperative partnership.
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