The top Chinese official in Hong Kong has called for controversial national security laws, put on hold in 2003, to now be passed in order to fight against radical violence, foreign interference and pro-independence forces in the region.
The comments from Luo Huining, who is the head of China’s liaison office in Hong Kong, come at a time that Beijing stands accused of overreach into the semi-autonomous city’s affairs.
Since his appointment in January it has been predicted that Luo would push back against the pro-democracy movement.
In a speech prepared for China’s national security education day, Luo said the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong was a “major blow” to the rule of law, threatening the one country, two systems principle under which it operates with China, and was influenced by pro-independence and radical violent forces.
Many people have “a rather weak concept of national security”, he said.
“If the anthill eroding the role of rule of law is not cleared, the dam of national security will be destroyed and the wellbeing of all Hong Kong residents will be damaged.”
He said efforts to safeguard national security must be ramped up, namely by passing the long-dormant and highly controversial article 23 legislation.
Article 23 of Hong Kong’s mini constitution, the basic law, says it “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”, and prohibit various forms of foreign political interference.
Attempts to pass the legislation in 2003 sparked mass protests across the city, and it ended up being shelved.