4th December 2023 – (Hong Kong) The announcement that Hong Kong will soon enact long-delayed national security legislation per Basic Law Article 23 comes at a pivotal moment. Recent events like activist Agnes Chow’s decision to flee prosecution highlight the ongoing threat hostile forces pose to Hong Kong’s stability. Completing Article 23 is crucial to fully empower authorities to counter national security threats and deny extremists refuge in legal loopholes.

Article 23 requires Hong Kong to pass laws prohibiting acts like sedition, subversion and foreign collusion that endanger national security. However, over 20 years after the handover, this mandate remains unfulfilled, hampering efforts to comprehensively safeguard Hong Kong. Extremists have exploited this void to undermine public order with foreign backing. No modern society can allow such glaring vulnerabilities in its national security foundations.

The 2020 National Security Law (NSL) represented an important stopgap measure imposed by Beijing to uphold sovereignty and restore order after the chaos of 2019. However, as an overarching piece of legislation, the NSL cannot address national security comprehensively on its own. Detailed local laws under Article 23 are still required to cover issues like cybersecurity and economic stability.

Only by fully implementing Article 23 can Hong Kong establish a complete legal framework denying extremists any avenue to endanger public welfare. National security is the bedrock on which prosperity and development rest. Safe communities provide the stability businesses need to invest confidently. As Chief Executive John Lee underscored, Article 23’s enactment will significantly reinforce investor and resident confidence in Hong Kong’s future.

Events continue highlighting the persistent threat hostile external forces pose to Hong Kong’s stability. Recent U.S. legislative proposals to sanction Hong Kong officials make clear certain powers seek to stoke unrest by emboldening radical elements. Individuals like Agnes Chow also remain determined to collaborate with anti-China groups abroad.

By cutting off extremists’ avenues for escaping justice, Article 23 directly counters such foreign interference. Its detailed statutes can hold subversive elements legally accountable regardless of location, preventing them from sheltering abroad to evade penalties. No matter where national security criminals attempt to hide, they will face prosecution.

Hong Kong academically and judicially needs these legislative tools to combat external influence and withstand pressure. Relying solely on the NSL leaves the city exposed by gaps in its legal armor. Article 23 will reinforce Hong Kong’s defences at a time foreign meddling risks escalating. Its deterrent power is vital to encourage restraint from provocative forces.

As government officials rightly emphasise, Article 23 legislation must uphold the rule of law and pass stringent public scrutiny. Draconian statutes exceeding necessity would undermine Hong Kong’s legal foundations. Only a fair, transparent process will produce enduring laws aligned with public interests.

However, the legislation’s necessity remains beyond doubt. No one can enjoy freedoms or rights absent social order and national sovereignty. Even Western democracies criminalize threats to their constitutional framework – free speech arguments cannot protect sedition or insurrection. Hong Kong deserves the same legal protections as any modern society from those working to upend its constitutional order.

The failed 2003 attempt at Article 23 legislation highlights the need for extensive consultations and outreach. Given painful memories, an open deliberative process and communication are essential to create both effective statutes and public buy-in. But the end goal remains inviolable – eliminating havens where national security criminals and foreign proxies can endanger Hong Kong with impunity.

Some accuse Beijing of repression in enacting the NSL and Article 23. But governance responsibility demands authorities restore order when unrest threatens citizens’ welfare, even via extraordinary means if required. Rights exist within a social compact, not in isolation. Undermining public security and national sovereignty forfeits any claim to civic protections.

At its core, fully implementing Article 23 simply reaffirms the “One Country” principle underpinning “One Country, Two Systems.” No part of a nation can declare immunity from constitutional duties to the whole, however distinct its local governance. National security and territorial integrity represent universal sovereign rights.

By fulfilling its long-delayed legislative duty, Hong Kong reinforces its commitment to the unity of purpose enabling its high degree of autonomy. Nowhere in the world are subnational jurisdictions entitled to compromise core security interests or offer refuge to those threatening them. Hong Kong’s future prosperity requires it embrace this constitutional obligation proactively, not resist it.

In fact, Centralised security powers demand oversight against abuse, and Hong Kong must balance unique local values like free expression. As with any legislation, Article 23 will warrant continuous refinement to walk this tightrope effectively. But Hong Kong need not be anomalous in prohibiting sedition – most vibrant democracies have enforced such laws for decades without sliding into dystopia.

However, leaving national security loopholes unaddressed when external threats persist is itself far more dangerous than cautious, deliberative legislation. The public demands and deserves security from chaos. By closing remaining legal gaps exploited by unscrupulous forces, Article 23 legislation will help Hong Kong turn the page decisively toward a new era of stability and development governed by patriotic elements. Its enactment promises to be a watershed moment solidifying the city’s future prosperity.