Published: 18:23, May 14, 2024
Gregory May’s remarks on HK nothing short of hypocritical
By Fu Kin-chi

US Consul General in Hong Kong and Macao Gregory May sparked outrage among Hong Kong residents by making inappropriate comments on Hong Kong’s affairs including the case of tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and the national security laws. His defamatory statements against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are unacceptable.

US and UK politicians and officials have actively meddled in Hong Kong’s affairs, particularly in attacking Hong Kong’s national security laws, under the guise of human rights, claiming the moral high ground by misrepresenting the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Contrary to Western criticisms, the national security laws implemented in Hong Kong have enabled the city to transition from chaos to stability, with investment, both from the Chinese mainland and overseas, having been boosted in an improved business environment after enactment of national security laws.

This is evidenced by a recent report from the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, which stated that nearly 60 percent of interviewed enterprises were optimistic about the city’s business environment.

The core elements of Hong Kong’s success, including the rule of law, human rights protections and judicial independence stipulated in the Basic Law, are robustly safeguarded by the National Security Law for Hong Kong and the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance. These security laws safeguard national security while upholding residents’ legitimate rights and freedoms such as freedom of speech, press, publication, assembly, procession, demonstration; they also uphold the principles of no double jeopardy, presumption of innocence, non-retrospective nature of laws and fair trial, as well as the defendants’ right to defense, and other litigation rights. Specific exclusions and grounds for defense of certain offenses are introduced into the new laws.

Western criticisms of Hong Kong’s national security laws demonstrate double standards and hypocrisy as they have tougher national security laws in place and never tolerate civil unrest in their own countries

Every country formulates laws to safeguard national security according to its needs to prevent, stop and punish acts and activities that endanger national security. By virtue of the central government’s mandate, the HKSAR government’s move to enact local legislation to safeguard national security by plugging legal loopholes aligns with global practices, and is a constitutional responsibility for the region.

May’s attempt to interfere in the cases of Lai and others is ill-intentioned, which is further proof of the need for such legislation, and highlights Lai’s alleged collusion with foreign forces. Lai is currently getting a fair trial in Hong Kong, and any undue interference in his trial may be liable to the charges of “perverting the course of justice” and “contempt of court”.

Over the past 27 years since the return of Hong Kong, the principles of “one country, two systems”, “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong”, and a high degree of autonomy have been effectively implemented. The rights and freedoms enjoyed by the residents of Hong Kong under the law are fully protected, and the achievements in economic development and social progress are evident. The HKSAR’s judicial institutions lawfully combat illegal criminal activities, upholding the rule of law and justice, and its professionalism is unquestionable.

Western criticisms of Hong Kong’s national security laws demonstrate double standards and hypocrisy as they have tougher national security laws in place and never tolerate civil unrest in their own countries. For example, the United States has at least 21 national security-related laws, with comprehensive provisions and severe penalties, including prolonged detention of national security suspects and death penalty.

May’s remarks on Hong Kong’s freedom of expression are particularly hypocritical, given the fact that the US authorities have forcefully clamped down on protests in universities recently after students had merely expressed their support for Palestinians.

The author is a law professor, director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, and vice-president of the Hong Kong Basic Law Education Association.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.