April 14, 2022
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Wednesday strongly opposed unfounded allegations made in the US Department of State’s 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices relating to the city.
In a statement, a spokesman for the HKSAR government strongly urged the US to immediately stop breaching the international law based on its biased political interests to intervene in Hong Kong matters, which are purely the internal affairs of the People’s Republic of China.
The spokesman reiterated that human rights are fully protected by law in Hong Kong.
“The Basic Law provides a constitutional guarantee for fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to equality before the law, and is buttressed by the rule of law and an independent judiciary.”
The spokesman said safeguarding human rights and freedoms is a constitutional duty and it attaches the utmost importance and is firmly committed to upholding human rights and various freedoms in Hong Kong.
Opposing the unfounded allegations against the 2021 Legislative Council General Election, the HKSAR government spokesman said all seats were contested, unlike previously when seats in some subsectors were automatically elected because only one candidate was running
Opposing the unfounded allegations against the 2021 Legislative Council General Election, the spokesman said all seats were contested, unlike previously when seats in some subsectors were automatically elected because only one candidate was running.
“The open, fair, and healthy competition among candidates reflected the fairness and competitiveness of the new electoral system,” the spokesman added.
The government also dismissed the allegations smearing the National Security Law as “totally groundless” and cannot be further from the truth.
The spokesman reiterated that all law enforcement actions taken by the Hong Kong SAR law enforcement agencies under the National Security Law, or indeed any local legislation, are based on evidence, strictly according to the law and for the acts of the persons or entities concerned, and have nothing to do with their occupation, background or political stance.
“While the National Security Law has put in place a stringent threshold for the grant of bail for cases endangering national security, the law has not violated the legal principle of presumption of innocence.”
“On the contrary, it is clearly stipulated in the Court of Final Appeal judgment concerning the provision on bail of the National Security Law that this law has emphasized protection and respect for human rights as well as adherence to rule of law values while safeguarding national security.”
As for academic freedom, the spokesman said post-secondary education institutions in Hong Kong are independent organizations. “While enjoying autonomy on institutional affairs, including the handling of student union matters, they also have the responsibility to make sure their operations comply the law and meet the interests of the community at large.”
The institutions are fulfilling their obligation of safeguarding national security in accordance with statutory requirements and the principle of institutional autonomy, according to the statement.
On freedoms of the press and speech, the spokesman said all Hong Kong residents shall be equal before the law under Article 25 of the Basic Law. “Allegations that the city’s authorities have targeted and suppressed independent media in the Hong Kong SAR under the National Security Law are simply unfounded.”
Addressing the report’s concerns about the disbandment announced by individual organizations in 2021, the spokesman reaffirmed that freedom of association in the HKSAR is guaranteed under the Basic Law.
Whilst freedom of association should be respected and protected, similar to other rights and freedoms, it is not absolute, the spokesman said.
“It may be subject to restrictions that are provided by law and are necessary for pursuing legitimate aims such as the protection of national security or public order.”
The spokesman also emphasized that safeguarding national security is a matter of fundamental importance. “While some organizations might decide to disband on their own accord, relevant authorities may also disband certain organizations in accordance with the relevant law to minimize the risks of endangering national security that an organization may bring about.”
Any such actions are taken in strict accordance with the law, the spokesman added.