The Sunday Mail
WESTERN countries have lately been making groundless accusations and spreading falsehoods about China’s human rights record in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and its handling of Covid-19.
Even a small discrepancy will lead to a great error.
What more malicious lies are designed to cause huge misconception and misunderstanding?
Below is a compilation of what is false and what is true on China-related human rights matters, the purpose of which is to set the record straight.
False: Legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong will undermine human rights and basic freedoms of Hong Kong residents, and violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
True: The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in Hong Kong.
The rights and freedoms, including the freedoms of speech, press, publication, association, assembly, procession and demonstration, which residents of the Hong Kong enjoy under the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law.
The legislation only targets four types of offences, namely: secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.
It is designed to deter and sanction a minority in Hong Kong who are involved in offences seriously jeopardising national security.
It aims to protect the majority of law-abiding Hong Kong residents and safeguard their safety and lawful rights and freedoms.
It is spelt out in the constitutions of over 100 countries that the exercise of basic rights and freedoms shall not endanger national security.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights makes it clear that freedoms of religious belief, expression and peaceful assembly, the right to public trial and other rights may be subject to restrictions that are necessary to protect national security, public order and so on.
There are similar provisions in the European Convention on Human Rights.
False: The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong may include vaguely defined offences, and be abused by China’s national security authorities to oppress the people.
True: The legislation only targets offences that seriously jeopardise national security, much less than the dozens of crimes involving national security listed in countries such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The legislation sets clear limits on related law enforcement activities. It requires that all law enforcement efforts be conducted in strict accordance with legal provisions and statutory mandates and procedures, without prejudice to the lawful rights and interests of any individual or organisation.
It also provides that the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall perform its mandate in strict compliance with the law and be subject to supervision in accordance with the law.
The staff of the Office shall abide by the laws of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as well as national laws. Countries such as the US, UK, Canada and Australia have all established rigorous legal frameworks for safeguarding national security, which show no mercy in combating offences endangering national security.
False: The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong will make it difficult for foreign businesses in Hong Kong to fulfil their responsibility to respect human rights under the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights of the UN.
True: Clearly, the offences of secession, subversion, terrorist activities and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security are specific and only target a few perpetrators. These offences are not what law-abiding businesses and residents in Hong Kong would ever engage in. Law-abiding transnational businesses want stability and order in Hong Kong. The implementation of this law will help them better fulfil their responsibility to respect human rights.
False: The Hong Kong police have gotten away with the excessive use of force such as using chemicals against protesters, committing sexual harassment and assault on female protesters at police stations and harassing medical workers.
True: During the turbulence over the Amendment Bill, the Hong Kong police dealt with hundreds of violent incidents in accordance with the law and police guidelines for months. Yet the radical protesters kept upgrading their equipment from stones and iron bars to steel-ball slingshots, knife-attached umbrellas and dangerous chemicals.
Even so, police demonstrated maximum levels of calm, rationality and restraint. They only used force correspondingly to stop violent attacks or other illegal acts threatening the life and safety of other people on site, which is totally in line with international practice. They acted in a restrained, civil and highly professional manner even when their own lives and safety were threatened by dangerous weapons and violent and illegal activities.
In fact, not a single protester in Hong Kong died because of law enforcement activity.
Yet over 590 police officers had been injured while on duty by the end of May.
In sharp contrast to the restrained and professional performance by Hong Kong police, there are many reports about the US police killing civilians with guns and excessive force in the course of law enforcement.
The year 2019 alone saw 1 004 such cases.
By mid-June, at least 13 people had lost their lives in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, in addition to hundreds of injuries and over 13 500 arrests.
For example, Linda Tirado, a 37-year-old freelance writer and journalist, has been left permanently blind in one eye after being shot with rubber bullets by the police during her coverage of protests in Minneapolis.
False: The Chinese government has suppressed protests and promotion of democracy in Hong Kong.
True: What has happened since the return of Hong Kong proves that the freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents in accordance with the law have been fully protected.
Since the turbulence over the Amendment Bill in June last year, some radical protesters have deliberately stirred up violent incidents.
Their actions have gone far beyond the scope of peaceful demonstration and freedom of expression, and turned into extremist, violent and illegal acts.
Such violent acts have blatantly violated laws, posed serious threats to the safety of Hong Kong citizens and openly challenged the sovereignty and dignity of the State.
The malicious nature of their acts have been laid bare by facts and evidence.
Peaceful and reasonable expression of demand is a basic requirement and an intrinsic part of a culturally advanced society based on the rule of law.
Having said that, rights must be exercised within the framework of the rule of law, and no demand should be expressed by illegal means, let alone resorting to violence.
The rule of law is the core value of Hong Kong and the cornerstone for its long-term stability and prosperity.
Ensuring observance of laws and prosecution of lawbreakers is a manifestation of the spirit of the rule of law.
Only by taking zero tolerance toward violence and rioters can Hong Kong’s law and order be protected and the rule of law upheld.
Supporting violence and conniving with rioters represents a flagrant infringement of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.