9th June 2023 – (Hong Kong) The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) co-chairs, Chris Smith and Jeff Merkley, have sent a letter to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, urging coordinated action between the U.S. and U.K. on the Hong Kong issue. The letter calls for the U.K. to join the U.S. in pressuring China and cites the case of Jimmy Lai as evidence of Hong Kong’s deteriorating rule of law. The spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry‘s Hong Kong office expressed strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the letter, emphasising that Hong Kong is a society governed by the rule of law, and those who break the law will be held accountable.
According to the spokesperson, since the implementation of the National Security Law, Hong Kong has returned to stability, with the rights and freedoms of the Hong Kong people better protected by law, and the prospects for Hong Kong’s development looking bright. However, certain politicians from the U.S. and the West have repeatedly interfered in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal politics, waving the stick of sanctions and attempting political intimidation. The spokesperson emphasised that Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong, and no external forces can interfere with the historical process of restoring order.
The spokesperson also addressed the case of Jimmy Lai, a participant in the “Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill” movement, who is suspected of violating the Hong Kong National Security Law. The handling of the Lai case in Hong Kong is a just move to uphold the rule of law in Hong Kong and has nothing to do with freedom of the press or freedom of speech. The spokesperson criticised certain U.S. politicians for repeatedly intervening in the Lai case under the guise of press freedom, and for attempting to pressure China with their allies.
In response to the CECC co-chairs’ letter, the spokesperson urged relevant U.S. institutions and unscrupulous politicians to recognise the facts, abide by international law and basic norms of international relations, and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal politics on the international stage. The spokesperson emphasised that no one can be above the law, regardless of the forces behind them.
The CECC co-chairs’ letter also urges joint U.S.-U.K. actions on sanctions and at the United Nations regarding Hong Kong, and highlights the case of Jimmy Lai as a priority for the release of political prisoners. The letter concludes with the hope that closer cooperation on Hong Kong will demonstrate the U.S.-U.K. alliance’s resolve to stand for the rights and rule of law that previously undergirded Hong Kong prosperity.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has condemned the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s interference in the judicial proceedings of a court case involving Jimmy Lai Chee-ying. The U.S. politicians sent a letter to the UK Prime Minister, which the HKSAR government sees as politically motivated and an attempt to obstruct justice. They also condemned the US politicians’ efforts to impose “sanctions” on independent and impartial judicial officers and prosecutors.
A spokesperson for the HKSAR government emphasised that the Department of Justice controls criminal prosecutions, free from any interference. Prosecutors act in accordance with international practice, and decisions to prosecute are based on applicable laws and admissible evidence, not political beliefs or backgrounds. Hong Kong is a society underpinned by the rule of law, and its judicial system is highly regarded by international communities.
The spokesperson stressed that everyone charged with a criminal offence has the right to a fair hearing, as guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. Safeguarding national security is a matter of internal affairs, and the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law should be free from any form of interference. The U.S. politicians’ actions are arbitrary, unreasonable, and a blatant attempt to undermine the rule of law in Hong Kong and interfere in China’s internal affairs.
The HKSAR government strongly opposes any attempts to interfere with or obstruct the course of justice. Any statements made with the intent to interfere with the judicial process may even constitute the offence of criminal contempt of court or perverting the course of justice. Article 85 of the Basic Law clearly stipulates that the Judiciary shall exercise judicial power independently in accordance with the law, free from any interference.
The HKSAR government calls on the U.S. politicians to respect Hong Kong’s rule of law and stop interfering in its judicial affairs. The government remains committed to ensuring that Hong Kong remains a society underpinned by the rule of law, where laws must be obeyed, and lawbreakers held accountable. Hong Kong’s judicial system will continue to uphold international standards and protect the rights of all its citizens.