28th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has strongly disapproved of and firmly rejected what it described as baseless remarks, slanders, and smears made by the United Kingdom (U.K.) and other countries regarding media freedom in Hong Kong. The HKSAR government criticized the UK’s attempts to interfere with Hong Kong’s law-based governance and undermine the city’s rule of law, prosperity, and stability.
China has been urging countries to boycott a British-organized event at the United Nations in Geneva focused on media freedom in Hong Kong. The event, titled “Media Freedom in Hong Kong,” took place on Wednesday during the five-week meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council. One of the speakers at the event was Sebastien Lai, the son of media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who is currently serving a prison sentence related to the national security law and sedition charges in Hong Kong.
A letter from China’s mission, widely circulated among diplomats at the U.N. in Geneva, requested countries to abstain from participating in the event in any way.
In response to these developments, a spokesman for the HKSAR Government expressed strong disapproval, stating that the U.K., along with other countries, has repeatedly made skewed remarks against the human rights situation in Hong Kong. The spokesman labelled these remarks as political manipulation that disregards and distorts facts. The government accused the countries involved of attempting to interfere with Hong Kong’s internal affairs and undermine its rule of law, prosperity, and stability. The spokesman urged the countries concerned to discern facts from fallacies, respect international law and norms governing international relations, and immediately cease interfering in Hong Kong matters, which are considered China’s internal affairs.
The spokesman emphasized that since the enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) in 2020, national security has been effectively safeguarded and social order swiftly restored. The rights and freedoms of the people have been better protected, leading to a significant transition from chaos to governance in Hong Kong. The government stressed that Hong Kong residents have been enjoying their rights and freedoms under the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, and other relevant laws. The NSL explicitly stipulates that human rights should be respected and protected while safeguarding national security in the HKSAR. It further ensures that the freedoms of the press, speech, and publication, as well as other rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents, are protected in accordance with the law.
The spokesman highlighted that since the implementation of the NSL, the media landscape in Hong Kong has remained vibrant, and the media can exercise their freedom of the press as long as they abide by the law. Freedom to comment on and criticize government policies remains uninhibited, as long as it does not violate the law.
The spokesman made it clear that Hong Kong is a society built on the rule of law and has always adhered to the principle that laws must be obeyed and lawbreakers held accountable. Any suggestion of granting immunity from legal sanctions based on backgrounds or occupations is considered contrary to the spirit of the rule of law and nonsensical.
Reiterating Hong Kong’s commitment to the “one country, two systems” principle, the spokesman emphasized that the HKSAR government is determined to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests. It pledges to fully implement the NSL and strengthen the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security, while also protecting the rights and freedoms of the people in accordance with the law. The overarching goal is to ensure the successful implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle as Hong Kong moves from stability to prosperity.