Hong Kong will further consolidate its mechanisms to safeguard national security by finishing the local legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law this year, and focus on strengthening its ties with the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world to boost its economic revival, the city's Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Tuesday.
Speaking ahead of a weekly Executive Council meeting, Lee said the SAR's aim to complete local legislation on Article 23 of the Basic Law this year remains unchanged. He added that it is also the city's constitutional responsibility to conclude the legislation as soon as possible, as stipulated in the Basic Law of the SAR and the National Security Law for Hong Kong.
Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law requires the SAR to enact laws on its own to prohibit seven categories of acts that endanger national security, including treason, sedition, subversion and theft of State secrets. Some of the crimes are already covered by the National Security Law for Hong Kong, which took effect on June 30, 2020, prohibiting secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security.
Lee warned there are various and ever-changing factors that could endanger national security, and the grim and complex international situation also poses further threats to Hong Kong's efforts to safeguard national security.
Therefore, Lee said, he hopes the entire process of legislating Article 23 could be completed this year or next year at the latest.
According to a Tuesday news conference held by the Hong Kong Police Force summarizing the city's social order situation of 2022, safeguarding national security remains at the top of the agenda of the force this year.
Last year, 236 people were arrested under the National Security Law and over 140 people were charged. The Counter-terrorism Reporting Hotline launched by the police in June last year has received over 13,000 messages so far, including many leads worth following up, the police said.
Meanwhile, the 90-day trial of Hong Kong's largest national security case, which started on Feb 6, continues in the city. The case involves 47 local activists who organized or participated in an illegal Legislative Council primary election in 2020, which aimed to seek a majority of the legislature's seats to veto the government's financial budget, paralyze its operation and topple the SAR government.
They were charged with "conspiracy to commit subversion of State power" under the National Security Law for Hong Kong.
On Monday, defendant Au Nok-hin, an organizer of the campaign who earlier pleaded guilty to the offense, appeared as a prosecution witness in court. He admitted that during a dinner gathering in 2020, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, the alleged mastermind of the "primary election", described the campaign as a "constitutional weapon of mass destruction".
During Tuesday's media meeting, the chief executive also said that as the city has fully restored normal connections with the Chinese mainland and the rest of the world, the government will do its best in telling good stories about Hong Kong and create more business opportunities to revive the economy.
On Monday, Lee met with Guangzhou Mayor Guo Yonghang and exchanged views on deepening cooperation between Hong Kong and Guangzhou in the fields of innovative technology, finance, education and youth employment.
Lee said he will visit Guangdong province soon, especially the mainland cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and work with other cities' leaders to promote high-quality development.
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