A group of young Hong Kong residents protest outside the US Consulate General in Hong Kong on Saturday, voicing their strong opposition to the US sanction bill on Hong Kong personals. Photo: Courtesy of Jacky Ko Chung-kit, a Hong Kong online opinion leader
The announcement of a bill introduced by some US lawmakers to sanction 49 Hong Kong judges, prosecutors and government officials sparked public outrage and protests in front of the US Consulate General in Hong Kong over the weekend.
Local residents and lawmakers in the city described the move as blatant and crude interference in the city’s judicial independence, while some experts suggested that if such interference leaves the city unable to carry on normal judicial trials in major cases involving national security, those cases could be handled in the Chinese mainland.
Hong Kong’s judiciary maintains a steadfast commitment to examining cases with a fair and independent professional spirit, upholding the rule of law and justice, Legislative Council member and Convener of China Retold Dominic Lee Tsz-king told the Global Times on Sunday as the legislator staged a protest in front the US consulate.
Hong Kong was ranked 22nd on the World Justice Project’s rule of law index in 2022, and the HKSAR’s judiciary enjoys the strong support of the entire Hong Kong community. Any threats, intimidation or interference from external forces are doomed to fail, he said.
Several local resident groups also staged protests in front the US consulate from Saturday to Sunday after the introduction of the so-called Hong Kong Sanctions Act, which urges the Biden administration to sanction the city’s officials, judges and prosecutors related to the National Security Law for Hong Kong.
“We strongly condemn US lawmakers who intimidate HKSAR personnel for safeguarding national security,” said Jacky Ko Chung-kit, a 44-year-old Hong Kong online opinion leader, who co-led another protest in front of the consulate on Saturday.
Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung described the latest move by US lawmakers as gangster behavior. “These US politicians, for their own interest, are intimidating the independent judiciary and threatening others if they do not follow their approach,” Tang told a radio program on Sunday.
Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok, who is also among the officials listed on the sanction list, was quoted as saying in media reports on Saturday that the actions of US lawmakers are akin to that of “Takeshi Gouda,” a character in the Japanese cartoon Doraemon who usually bullies others. He emphasized that he and the Chinese people are not “Nobita Nobi,” the character who is often bullied by Takeshi Gouda in the cartoon, and won’t be intimidated by such actions.
These US lawmakers deliberately released the sanction proposal two weeks before the APEC Leaders’ Meetings, causing embarrassment to the host, the Biden administration, Chu Kar-kin, a veteran current affairs commentator based in Hong Kong and member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday.
At a time when the US and China have been seeing growing interactions ahead of the meetings, raising prospects for the meetings between the two heads of state, these hostile and irrational politicians are especially trying to make new obstacles for bilateral relations, Chu said.
The introduction of the sanction bill by US lawmakers at this time is a continuation of several previous bills against China, primarily aimed at deterring China in their overall strategy, Louis Chen, a member of the Election Committee and general secretary of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, told the Global Times on Sunday.
“In fact, earlier this year, there were rumors that the US was considering allowing [HKSAR government Chief Executive] John Lee to attend the APEC meeting, to which several bipartisan US congress members wrote to the administration, expressing strong opposition,” Chen said.
On the surface, the bill’s goal is to slander and undermine Hong Kong’s human rights and rule of law, but in fact, it seeks to play up the National Security Law for Hong Kong threat theory through carefully packaged language, publicize the “China threat,” interfere in the country’s internal affairs, smear its domestic and foreign policies, and attempt to launch a comprehensive containment and suppression against the nation, he noted.
On Sunday, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, the office for safeguarding national security of the central government in Hong Kong and the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong all voiced strong opposition to and condemnation of the latest US bill.
Since July 2022, a handful of ill-intentioned US politicians have frequently concocted bills to slander and attack Hong Kong’s judicial system, rehashing the old tune of “Hong Kong human rights” as a pretext. The facts have proven that such bullying, no matter how numerous or excessive, will be nothing but a waste paper and will never shake the will and determination of the central government and the HKSAR to safeguard national security according to law, the office for safeguarding national security said.
US politicians are engaged in political manipulation by openly imposing the so-called “sanctions” against HKSAR government officials, law enforcement and judicial personnel, and violently interfering in Hong Kong’s judiciary, which is quite ironic and a mockery of their declared democracy and the rule of law, the liaison office said.
If such severe interference in Hong Kong affairs makes it difficult for the city to conduct normal judicial trials concerning major cases on national security, it is possible that the central government can act by invoking Article 55 of the National Security Law for Hong Kong and transfer the cases to the mainland for handling, Lau Siu-kai, a consultant from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies who is also a senior policy advisor, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The latest move by US politicians on one hand aims to stir up an anti-China atmosphere before the US elections to gain political capital for themselves and on the other hand to make some noise before the upcoming trial of the anti-government media tycoon Jimmy Lai, Lau said.
“US legislators believe Lai is being treated unfairly and hope that the judiciary and law enforcement will give him leniency if they made serious threats against Hong Kong officials, prosecutors, judges, and even lawyers,” Lau said, noting that such attempts undermine the city’s judicial independence.
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