This year’s National People’s Congress (NPC) of China endorsed new national security law for Hong Kong, which carries a broader significance for peace, development and stability in the region. The decision for implementation of ‘one country, two systems’ is of course designed for Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability, enabling Hong Kong’s citizens to undergo greater socio-economic integration in the changed context. The new legal provision seeks to contain the city’s chaotic situation, maintain its territorial integrity and uphold the city’s vibrancy as a financial hub.
First-order priority Until some months ago and even after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were sporadic cases of violence obstructing the public transport service, railway, businesses and people’s mobility. The image of Hong Kong in the outer world was completely blurry - a restless society with violent activities and poor law and order situation. In such a circumstance, the NPC’s decision to frame the new law is timely, rational and the need of the hour. As ‘one country, two systems’ is China’s basic state policy, it is China’s choice to take any decision on its domestic affairs. What is supposed is that the NPC was forced to take this decision by the turn of events with its legislative power and responsibility. To safeguard national security is an essential part of the 'one country, two systems' principle that China is following for long. For lack of national security, there will be neither lasting peace and stability for China nor long-term prosperity and stability for Hong Kong. It is a core national interest, thus a first-order priority for any country. Also this is clear that since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the Hong Kong SAR has not acted out constitutional duty for national security in line with China’s constitution and the basic law of the Hong Kong SAR. With the adoption of the new security legislation -- bedrock underpinning a country's stability -- the violent radical activities in the city that have posed serious threat to the people’s call for peaceful life and poor security will gradually come to an end. This is because the national security is the essential precondition for a country’s survival and development. The national legislation will ensure enforcement of law and order, which will ensure security of the investment of investors in the city from all over the world and the migrants living in Hong Kong. The national security legislation will affect neither the high level of autonomy and freedom enjoyed by Hong Kong residents nor the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors. Instead, it will bring more stability, stronger rule of law and a better business environment. It is worth mentioning that the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu has also made it clear that the new legal provision will ensure the safety and welfare of Nepalis living and working in the city. As there are some 27,000 to 30,000 Nepalis living in Hong Kong, the better security will have positive repercussions for the people of Nepali origin. The long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong will support their security, income, good life and welfare while contributing to Nepal-China exchanges and cooperation. It’s for sure that China and instability fueled by the westerners cannot go together. It is a broad daylight that instigation for protest against the security law is fuming from the western powers that envy China’s steady economic progress and rapid infrastructure developments. But their wishes are not going to be fulfilled. One does not need to hesitate to say that the law will obviously reduce the so-called provocation of the Western power, their unruly acts and efforts to create instability in the city once and for all. Unnecessary radicalisation of the people and society in Hong Kong was doing nothing except for terrorising the folks. Against this backdrop, after the enactment of the law, Hong Kong will enjoy significant advantages in the Asia Pacific region and remain an economic, business and financial hub while maintaining its steady economic progress like before. Therefore, the decision is designed to consolidate the foundation of ‘one country, two systems’ and keep it on the right track. Only when national security is guaranteed, Hong Kong can enjoy long-term prosperity and stability. Safeguarding national security serves not only the fundamental interests of Hong Kong society but also protects the lawful rights and interest of foreign institutions and personnel in Hong Kong. Some countries in the West are criticising the move of China to unveil the law which amounts to interference in China’s internal affairs.
Changed dynamics They will never succeed to impose their ill-intention and create instability in Hong Kong as well as in China in the long run. This is because the power politics and dynamics have immensely altered after the outbreak of COVID-19 and China has emerged more power than before. China becoming more powerful is the sign of the world becoming further integrated, multi-polar and cooperative. So, this law is in the greater interest of Hong Kong and the city dwellers, and any untoward activities by the external forces are sure to go down the tube. Likewise, this legislation has ended the colonial-era British psyche and ploy of a handful of Westerner powers hell-bent on igniting violence and conspiracy against the mainland China.
(Dr Sharma is the president of Trans-Himalayan Development Centre)