‘All judiciary staff must protect national security’

All judiciary staff, administrative officers and those in law enforcement have a responsibility to safeguard national security, a mainland official in Hong Kong said on Monday.

Addressing a legal forum on the security law, the director of the Office for Safeguarding National Security, Zheng Yanxiong, said no one has any excuse not to take action.

“It is totally in line with protecting the spirit of rule of law, the business environment and the public interest in Hong Kong,” he said.

Zheng also said that the “black violence” of 2019 must be handled according to the law, adding that the anti-extradition protests were not just a pro-democracy movement, but an attempt to subvert state power.

The deputy head of Beijing’s liaison office, Chen Dong, also spoke at the forum.

He said some people with ulterior motives have beautified the “lone-wolf terrorist attack” that injured a police officer last week, and this shows there is much more to do to fully implement the security law.

But Chen said the legislation has largely restored order in the city, and the street violence seen during the 2019 protests has disappeared.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam echoed Chen’s views, saying the law has brought stability without undermining people’s fundamental rights.

She said the events of the past year have proved wrong foreign politicians and media who say the law has damaged freedom of the press in the SAR.

Lam said the number of media outlets registered with the government has increased in the past year, and people have been exercising their freedom to criticise the authorities on a daily basis.

She also brushed aside criticism that the authorities are suppressing protests.

“We all know it was because of Covid-19 that public assemblies could not be held. It is the same as in other parts of the world. It should not be used as an excuse to accuse Hong Kong… that people’s rights and freedoms have been undermined.”

Lam added that the SAR’s judiciary remains independent, with 13 overseas judges sitting in the Court of Final Appeal, while the city continues to be an international financial centre with HK$500 billion of IPO funds raised here in the past 12 months.

The chief executive said 64 of 117 people suspected of violating the national security law had been prosecuted as of last month, and the law only targets a very small number of people.