People from all walks of life attend a campaign in support of the national security legislation for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Hong Kong on May 24 (XINHUA)
China's top legislature reviewed a draft law on safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China.
The draft law was submitted for deliberation at the 19th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) from June 18 to 20.
Entrusted by the Council of Chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee, an official with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee explained the draft law to the session on June 18.
With 66 articles, the draft law has six chapters, namely the general principles; the HKSAR's duties and institutions of safeguarding national security; crimes and penalties; jurisdiction over national security cases, application of laws and procedures; institutions of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR for safeguarding national security; and supplementary provisions.
Establishing and improving at the national level the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security is a major measure to uphold and improve the system of "one country, two systems," said Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, at the closing meeting of the session.
It is also a fundamental solution to maintain long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and ensure the steady and sustained development of the cause of "one country, two systems," Li said.
Responsibilities of Central Government and HKSAR
The Central People's Government shoulders the fundamental responsibility for national security affairs related to the HKSAR, while the HKSAR bears the constitutional responsibility of safeguarding national security and shall fulfill its obligations, according to the draft.
The executive organs, legislature and judiciary of the HKSAR shall, in accordance with relevant laws, effectively prevent, stop and punish acts and activities that endanger national security, says the draft.
Safeguarding China's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity is the common obligation of all Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots, it says.
Any institution, organization, or individual in the HKSAR shall abide by this law and other HKSAR laws on safeguarding national security, and shall not engage in any activity that jeopardizes national security, the draft reads.
Any HKSAR resident standing for election or taking up any position of public office shall sign documents to confirm or swear to uphold the HKSAR Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR, it says.
The HKSAR is required to step up efforts to safeguard national security and prevent terrorist activities.
In safeguarding national security, the HKSAR shall uphold the principle of the rule of law, according to which the HKSAR shall respect and protect human rights, and anyone shall be presumed innocent until convicted by the judicial organs, according to the draft law.
HKSAR to establish national security commission
The draft requires the HKSAR to establish a commission of safeguarding national security which shall be supervised by and accountable to the Central People's Government.
The HKSAR commission of safeguarding national security shall be chaired by the Chief Executive and establish the post of the national security adviser, who shall be appointed by the Central People's Government, it says.
The draft makes stipulations on what constitutes four categories of crimes that threaten national security and their corresponding penalties, including secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security.
Except in specific circumstances, the HKSAR shall exercise jurisdiction over criminal cases stipulated in this law, the draft says.
Central Government to set up national security office in HKSAR
The draft law provides that the Central People's Government shall establish an office of safeguarding national security in the HKSAR.
The office is obligated to analyze and appraise national security situation in the HKSAR, and provide comments and suggestions for major strategies and policies in this regard.
The office is required to supervise, guide, coordinate with and support the HKSAR in performing its duties on safeguarding national security.
It shall also collect and analyze intelligence information concerning national security, and deal with criminal cases concerning national security in accordance with the law.
The office and related organs of the central authorities may exercise jurisdiction over a tiny number of criminal cases that jeopardize national security under specific circumstances, which is an important manifestation of the Central Government's overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR, the official explained while briefing lawmakers.
The provisions of this law shall prevail when local laws of the HKSAR are inconsistent with this law, the draft says, adding the power of interpretation of this law shall be vested in the NPC Standing Committee.