Hong Kong Shall Not Descend into Chaos

Safeguarding national security is the foundation of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, as well as the livelihood of its people. Only by ensuring the social stability of Hong Kong from a legal perspective can the region and its people have a promising future.

“I was born and raised in Hong Kong, and like many people through hard work I’ve enjoyed an era of prosperity here,” said Checkley Sin Kwok-lam, a martial arts-loving finance tycoon in Hong Kong. “I hate to see Hong Kong be destroyed by the ignorance of the younger generation that is gradually turning it into a second-, third-, or even fourth-tier city.”

Sin’s concerns are but a snapshot of Hong Kong society’s gradual descent into the depths.

Since a proposed fugitive bill sparked unrest last summer, the opposition has openly advocated “Hong Kong independence,” “self-determination” and “referendums,” inciting illegal activities against the country and the Communist Party of China. Rioters vandalized buildings housing central government agencies, as well as public facilities and infrastructure, deliberately disrupting social order, and paralyzing operations of the government and the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). All of this has severely endangered national security, and dealt a serious blow to Hong Kong’s economy and people’s livelihood.

According to statistics released by Gallup in February, a record-high of 79% of the Hong Kong people believe the local economy deteriorating. The survey also shows that one third of Hongkongers say their standard of living has been declining.

Due to the political turmoil and impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic, in the first quarter Hong Kong’s GDP slumped 8.9% year-on-year, the biggest decline since 1974. Hong Kong’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from February to April reached 5.2%, also the highest in a decade.

Chief Executive of HKSRA Carrie Lam warned earlier this month that for the foreseeable future the region’s economy will be dealt severe negative blows by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of the opposition’s activities. Lam noted that even if the pandemic situation improves Hong Kong will still undergo a period of deep and prolonged recession.

Without any doubt, this dire prognosis is in great part due to the economic vandalism perpetrated by the opposition on Hong Kong.

South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported last November that after the previous five months of unrest in Hong Kong it could cost the HKSAR government US$1.3 million to fix or replace public facilities damaged by radical protesters.

“Rioters vandalized public facilities, including MTR stations, Light Rail stations and traffic lights, in various districts. The illegal blocking of roads in various districts also seriously affected public transport services and government services,” Secretary for Security of the HKSAR John Lee Ka-chiu said. “Rioters even set fires wantonly, damaged shops and hurled petrol bombs, posing serious threats to people’s lives and properties.”

The violence and vandalism has caused a slump in visitors to Hong Kong, and businesses in the tourist areas have been hit hard. The region’s commercial real estate market has gone into deep freeze. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong’s retail industry has shrunk sharply. Statistics show that retail sales in February are estimated to be 22.7 billion yuan, a 44% year-on-year drop, the largest on record. Specifically, retail sales of jewelry, watches and clocks, and high-end gifts slumped by 78.5% year-on-year. Sales of clothing, footwear, and related products fell by 71.2%, and sales of medicines and cosmetics drop by 56.5%.

Samy Redjeb, managing director for luxury distributor Bluebell Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, told SCMP recently that his firm might have to reconsider their investment in Hong Kong if the social unrest does not clam down.

The ongoing turmoil has also affected outsiders’ perceptions of Hong Kong. Earlier this March, the Z/Yen Partners collaborated with the China Development Institute, a think tank based in Shenzhen, and published the latest Global Financial Centers Index. For the first time since 2017, the index shows, Hong Kong didn’t make the global top three list, with its comprehensive competitiveness falling from third last September to sixth.

Hong Kong’s pain shows that a bright future depends upon a safe environment. If this chaos cannot be effectively contained, Hong Kong will certainly decline at an accelerated pace, and the interests and well-being of the general public in the region will be at high risk.

Article 23 of the Basic Law clearly stipulates that HKSAR has the constitutional responsibility and legislative obligation to safeguard national security. However, over the 20 years since Hong Kong returned to the motherland in 1997, the obligations of Article 23 have yet to be fulfilled due to the obstruction and interference of local and external anti-China forces. In the meantime, relevant provisions in the existing laws are barely enforced as they’ve been ignored for years.

In this regard, the national security legislation of the National People’s Congress (NPC) for HKSAR can close the region’s legal loopholes preventing it from safeguarding national security. It can not only crack down on the problems caused by the separatists and rioters, but also deter external interference, thus removing the obstacles, pitfalls and threats preventing the maximization of Hong Kong’s development.

Safeguarding national security is the foundation of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, as well as the livelihood of its people. Only by ensuring the social stability of Hong Kong from a legal perspective can the region and its people have a promising future.

Concerned that Hong Kong will be turned into a third- or fourth-tier city, Checkley Sin Kwok-lam said, “I am going to publish a book called Faded Hong Kong: How to Regain Its Past Glory.” Hopefully, his book will be able to provide some answers to these questions.