The US ‘Hong Kong Autonomy Act’ Is Unreasonable and Unlawful

Despite China’s strong opposition, the United States has signed into law the Hong Kong Autonomy Act passed by Congress.

The U.S. law maliciously smears Hong Kong’s national security legislation and threatens to impose sanctions on China. This is a serious violation of international law and contrary to the basic norms of international relations. It is a gross interference in the affairs of Hong Kong and in China’s internal affairs and reflects a distorted understanding of “one country, two systems.”

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s national security legislation fills in the loopholes in the HKSAR national security system and provides strong institutional safeguards for “one country, two systems” to be stable and far-reaching. In “one country, two systems,” “one country” is the precondition for, and foundation of, “two systems.” “Two systems” derives from, defers to and is unified within “one country.” “One country” constitutes a baseline for the smooth implementation of “two systems,” and the implementation of “two systems” cannot pose a challenge to “one country.”

Preserving national sovereignty and security is the essential core of “one country.” Comrade Deng Xiaoping emphasized that “the question of sovereignty is not a matter for discussion.” General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed, “Anything that jeopardizes national sovereignty, challenges the government of China and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and uses Hong Kong to infiltrate and damage the mainland goes too far and is absolutely not allowed.” One can see that the central government is consistent on the issue of safeguarding national sovereignty and security.

“One country, two systems” not only played a guiding role in the formulation of the Hong Kong Basic Law, it also constitutes a principle of the law and plays a very important role in understanding its spirit. One could say that “one country, two systems” has an overriding impact on implementing Hong Kong’s Basic Law, and implementing the law cannot undermine the spirit of the “one country, two systems” principle. When the Basic Law was enacted, the Central Authorities, placed its trust in the HKSAR and granted it the power to legislate on national security matters through Article 23. Nevertheless, this delegation of powers does not change the centralized nature of national security matters.

It has been 23 years since the return of Hong Kong. On the one hand, the enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law has not yet been finalized, leaving Hong Kong’s national security undefended for a long time. On the other hand, with the gradual development of a major change not seen in a century, Western nations will step up the use of Hong Kong to conduct acts of subversion, infiltration and sabotage against our country.

Therefore, under these circumstances, the National People’s Congress and its Standing Committee in accordance with Article 31 of the Constitution, have enacted Hong Kong’s national security legislation directly to supplement Hong Kong’s Basic Law and fill the gaps in Hong Kong’s national security. This is in order to fully and precisely implement the principle of “one country, two systems” and to provide strong guarantees for it in a stable, far-reaching way.

Hong Kong’s affairs are purely the internal affairs of China. The Chinese government resolved the Hong Kong issue by signing the Sino-British Joint Declaration with the British government, in which the Chinese government statement was also bound by the “one country, two systems” policy. The Chinese Government then fully incorporated the contents of the Sino-British Joint Declaration into Hong Kong’s Basic Law. After the return of Hong Kong, the constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong together form the constitutional basis of the HKSAR. These are the only documents that form the basis of its constitution.

The legal authorities by which the central government governs Hong Kong are also limited to the constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong. The Sino-British Declaration does not provide authority for the Chinese government to govern Hong Kong. Therefore, the process of fully and accurately implementing the Basic Law is the process of fully implementing the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Where certain provisions of the Hong Kong Basic Law were not implemented for various reasons, the Chinese government has, in accordance with the constitution, taken legal steps to fill the loopholes so that the relevant provisions of the Hong Kong Basic Law can be implemented. This is not a violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, but on the contrary, faithfully implements the Joint Declaration.

Therefore, the American government is maliciously slandering Hong Kong’s national security law, deliberately distorting the meaning of “one country, two systems” and the constitutional basis of the HKSAR. The U.S. actually has an ulterior motive which is to obstruct China’s development through the Hong Kong issue.

Given that the sovereignty of Hong Kong belongs to China, and the Chinese government has firmly taken the initiative on the issue of Hong Kong, the United States, in passing the “Hong Kong Autonomy Act” has really engaged in an exercise in futility. We must resolutely implement Hong Kong’s national security legislation and effectively safeguard our national security to ensure the ongoing stability of “one country, two systems.”

The author is with the China Executive Leadership Academy, Pudong.

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