Hong Kong government hits back at “groundless” U.K. criticisms over National Security Law and reforms

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20th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Officials in Hong Kong have strongly rejected recent claims made in the U.K.’s six-monthly report on the territory, accusing Britain of political bias and failing to understand local security concerns. In a stern response, a government spokesman said the remarks amounted to interference in China’s internal affairs and an attempt to distort facts about stability and rights protections since controversial changes were enacted.

Ever since huge protests engulfed Hong Kong in 2019, relations with the UK have grown increasingly strained as authorities work to strengthen security and enact electoral reforms. However, the spokesman insisted developments were lawful and necessary to restore order after a period of “serious violence”. Implementing the National Security Law had enabled a resumption of normal life and business for residents, successfully restoring calm amid sensitive moves to shore up the “patriots administering Hong Kong” principle.

While acknowledging certain freedoms must respect national security limits like all countries, the spokesman pushed back against claims of deteriorating rights. Implementation of the security statute over three years saw no suppression of rational criticisms but accountability for illegal acts, courts affirmed due process and fair trial rights, and the media landscape remained vibrant. However, the UK report took a “one-sided view” by politicizing law-based governance and perhaps failing to discern facts from “fallacies”.

Specifically addressing claims over security cases and access to lawyers, officials said diverting sensitive trials to judges alone matched global norms. The government certificate system for foreign lawyers simply aimed to properly address potential risks in line with a mainland legal interpretation, not limit choice. Historical precedent established qualified attorneys from one’s jurisdiction were rightly available, but overseas counsel not licensed locally stood on weaker ground. Proportional limits fell within the Basic Law too.

Turning to the electoral system update and DC reforms, the spokesman described keeping power in patriotic hands as an internationally common practice, not a form of political screening. The changes properly aligned district bodies with their non-political advisory role as envisioned in the constitution. A variety of input channels now enabled those with affection for both the nation and Hong Kong to serve communities through the governance structure.

Among the reasons given for strengthening security rules was ending the “chaos” within some sixth-term district councils that damaged their intended functions. Far from curbing democratic processes, diversifying participation methods better reflected public opinion. The forcible recruitment of beauty salon workers exemplified cases authorities were treating seriously according to evidence and law.

In closing, the spokesman made clear Hong Kong would always abide by the rule of law yet stressed national security fell under central authority alone. Overall, the U.K.’s ongoing criticisms were divorced from on-the-ground realities and its own comparable laws, disrespecting legal system integrity to politicise “tools more than humans”. Hong Kong remained determined under “one country, two systems” to steady advancement, prosperity and opportunity through firm foundations of stability, lawfulness and connectivity.