This file photo, taken on July 14, 2020, shows the Chinese national and Hong Kong SAR regional flags fluttering at the Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government has vehemently refuted, strongly disapproved of and firmly rejected slandering remarks and ill-intentioned political attacks on the city under the successful application of “one country, two systems” in the United Kingdom’s latest so-called United Kingdom Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong: July to December 2022.

In a press statement issued on Thursday night, the special administrative region government stressed that the HKSAR is an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China.

It urged the UK again to respect international law and the basic norms governing international relations and stop interfering in Hong Kong matters, which are purely China’s internal affairs.

Improved electoral system

The new electoral system has established the Legislative Council Election Committee Constituency which goes beyond the vested interests of various groups and districts, and broadened the representation in Hong Kong’s political structure in a balanced and orderly manner, thereby enhancing the city’s governance efficiency, the statement pointed out.

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The seventh-term LegCo has, by way of its rational and constructive interaction with the executive authorities, fully manifested “patriots administering Hong Kong” through checks and balances as well as cooperation, while different voices in the legislature have steadfastly upheld Hong Kong’s overall interests, exemplifying quality democracy, it added.

Safeguarding national security

The SAR government strongly disapproves of the UK’s ignorance of the fact that the implementation of the national security law (NSL) has enabled the livelihood and economic activities of the Hong Kong community at large to resume as normal and the business environment to be restored.

Any comment on the case of the overseas lawyer's application for ad hoc admission is a paradigm case of double standards and hypocrisy.

Spokesman, HKSAR Govt

It also said that trial by a panel of three judges instead of by a jury under specified circumstances in accordance with Article 46 of the NSL seeks to safeguard rather than undermine the defendants’ right to a fair trial, and judges will deliver the reasons for the verdicts to ensure open justice.

“As a matter of fact, in order to safeguard national security, legislation is in place in Northern Ireland of the UK which authorizes the prosecutorial authority to issue certificates so that certain types of cases must be tried by a judge without a jury.”

Additionally, the sentencing regime for offenses under the NSL seeks to effectively prevent, suppress and impose punishment for acts and activities endangering national security.

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There are precedents in common law jurisdictions to prescribe mandatory sentencing regimes under statutes in respect of specific types of offenses, the government said, adding that there is legislation in the UK that prescribes mandatory sentencing regimes for certain offenses that pose more serious harm to society or are prevalent.

Justice and rule of law

Through the interpretation of Articles 14 and 47 of the NSL, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress provided clear guidance for the HKSAR to resolve by itself the controversial question of whether overseas lawyers who are not qualified to practice generally in Hong Kong may be admitted on an ad hoc basis to participate in cases concerning national security.

“The interpretation did not confer additional power on the Chief Executive, and only clarified that Article 47 is applicable in handling the controversy concerning overseas lawyers.”

The certificate issued by the chief executive only provides binding certification to the court on the questions stipulated in Article 47 of the NSL, the government stressed.

“It does not usurp the function of the court in deciding on other issues of the legal proceedings or the adjudication of the case.”

In the UK, meanwhile, there is simply no regime for ad hoc admission of overseas lawyers similar to that in Hong Kong, not to mention any regime which allows overseas lawyers who are not qualified to practice generally there to handle national security cases, the government pointed out.

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“Any comment on the case of the overseas lawyer's application for ad hoc admission is a paradigm case of double standards and hypocrisy.” 

Rights, freedoms

Since NSL implementation, the media landscape in Hong Kong has been as vibrant as ever. The media can exercise their right to monitor the government’s work, and their freedom of commenting on and criticizing government policies remains uninhibited as long as they are not in violation of the law, the SAR government reiterated.