Justice chief refutes claim Hong Kong has lost autonomy

The accusations US President Donald Trump levelled at the practice of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong is a gross misrepresentation of the ground situation, said Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah.

Speaking to the media after attending a radio programme on Saturday, Cheng rejected Trump’s suggestion that Hong Kong has lost its autonomy.

“It is said that we are becoming ‘one country, one system’ with loss of autonomy, that is completely false and wrong,” said Cheng.

She said national security is a matter under the purview of the central authorities.

“People often forget that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region [HKSAR] is part of China, we are one country. Without ‘one country’, there is not any basis to talk about ‘two systems’.

“Therefore, insofar as the national security is concerned, as in any other country in the world, this is a matter that belongs to the central authorities, whether it is a unitary or federal state,” said Cheng.

She said that international law empowers all nations to legislate on domestic affairs. The threat of sanctions by any third country constitutes interference in the internal affairs of other countries, which is utterly unacceptable, she emphasised.

“As to the suggestion of certain individuals or perhaps a particular region being sanctioned as a result of China passing the national security law, we step back and look at it in this way – national security is of prime importance to any sovereign state, and any sovereign state must, as a matter of its sovereign right, and indeed duty, to protect the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of any state. Therefore, passing national security law is something that any state has to do,” said Cheng.

In a statement on Friday, a HKSAR government spokesman said unwarranted allegations and threats of sanctions by the US and other Western countries over Hong Kong’s proposed national security legislation are “violations of international law and international practice”.

He said Hong Kong’s separate customs territory status is enshrined in the Basic Law and free trade policy will be continued.

But the US has threatened to revoke the city’s preferential trading status.

“The threat of sanctions to achieve the purpose of interfering with the policies of another place is a violation of international law and international practice. In the Hong Kong-US relationship, any sanctions are a double-edged sword that will not only harm the interests of Hong Kong but also significantly harm those of the US,” said the spokesman.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying: “We fully support the measures taken by the party and government of China for safeguarding the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the country and achieving stability and prosperity of Hong Kong-based on the policy of ‘one country, two systems’.

“[The recent social unrest in the HKSAR] is the product of a plot by the external force and its vassal forces that seek the division and disintegration of China by tarnishing the image of a socialist country and fomenting and escalating a social disorder.

“Since the Hong Kong issue is one pertaining thoroughly to the internal affairs of China, any country or force has no rights to say this or that about it. We categorically oppose and reject foreign interference detrimental to the security and the social and economic development of Hong Kong,” said the spokesman.