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GBA rule of law action plan released

The Action Plan on the Construction of Rule of Law in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has been released, the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced today.   Secretary for Justice Paul Lam explained that the action plan has two intentions, namely to underpin the guiding principle of “Three Interfaces, Two Connects & One Greater Bay Area”, and strengthen collaboration with the legal and dispute resolution sectors and other stakeholders to effectively implement policy measures set out in the plan.   Through mechanisms, regulatory frameworks and talent – the “three interfaces” – the DoJ said it will promote hardware and software connectivity in constructing rule of law in the bay area, co-operation between the various cities according to their respective strengths, and collaboration between different legal systems, thereby eventually achieving the goal of “one Greater Bay Area”.   Deputy Secretary for Justice Cheung Kwok-kwan, who is also the leading Hong Kong

Govt rejects US report

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today said it strongly disapproves of and rejects untruthful remarks, slanders and smears made against the Hong Kong SAR in the 2024 Hong Kong Policy Act Report, published by the US, and in an accompanying statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

 

The Hong Kong SAR Government said it was apparent that the report and statement were designed to serve the political purpose of maintaining the hegemony of the US and suppressing the rights and security interests of others.

  

It stressed that the Hong Kong SAR is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China, adding that as a local administrative region that enjoys a high degree of autonomy under the principle of “one country, two systems”, it comes directly under the jurisdiction of the Central People’s Government.

 

The Hong Kong SAR Government said the US was once again perpetuating fallacies about Hong Kong, confounding right and wrong, and blatantly interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, which it stressed are entirely China's internal affairs.

 

It added that the so-called “sanctions” and “visa restrictions” mentioned in the report and statement smack of despicable political manipulation intended to intimidate Hong Kong SAR officials safeguarding national security, and that they violate international law and the basic norms governing international relations.

 

The Hong Kong SAR Government said that remarks in the report about Hong Kong’s electoral system and its 2023 District Council (DC) Ordinary Election are utterly untrue. It highlighted that the improved electoral system puts in place legal safeguards to ensure the full implementation of the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, adding that keeping political power in the hands of patriots is common practice around the world.

 

It stressed that regardless of background anyone in Hong Kong who meets the requirements and criteria of being a patriot can participate in elections, in accordance with the law. It added that reform to DCs was necessary and imperative given the chaos of earlier term DCs, and that the current system enables people who love the country, have an affection for Hong Kong and are dedicated to serving their districts to participate in the work of DCs.

 

 

With regard to comments in the report and statement on the Hong Kong SAR’s laws safeguarding national security, the Hong Kong SAR Government said that since the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law in June 2020, the US has made no mention whatsoever of the large-scale and incessant riots that occurred in 2019 and devastated Hong Kong’s society and economy.

 

It said that instead the US feigns ignorance and repeatedly slanders and blatantly attacks the laws safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR. It added that the US also deliberately neglects the fact that such laws have enabled economic activity to return to normalcy for the Hong Kong community, and that its bullying, hypocrisy and double standards are ugly and despicable.

 

The Hong Kong SAR Government highlighted that law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong take actions that are based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law in respect of acts committed by people or entities, paying no regard to their political stance, background or occupation.

 

It underlined that the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights guarantee all defendants charged with a criminal offence the right to a fair trial by the judiciary exercising independent judicial power, and that the courts of the Hong Kong SAR exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference. It said that it is therefore extremely inappropriate for the US to make unwarranted comments on criminal trials which are ongoing in the Hong Kong SAR courts.

 

With regard to national security-related legislation, the Hong Kong SAR Government pointed out that the US has at least 21 pieces of such legislation, in addition to countless administrative orders that have been issued in the name of national security. It added that the US has routinely suppressed dissidence through covert surveillance, illegal wiretapping, and global manhunts, and is therefore in no position to point its finger at other countries and regions.

 

In relation to safeguarding the administration of justice and the rule of law, the Hong Kong SAR Government said establishing mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR will not undermine the independence of its judicial power, which continues to be protected by the Basic Law.

 

It highlighted that the right to choose a lawyer is protected by the Basic Law, adding that it is well-established by case law that such a choice means a right to choose a lawyer entitled to practice in Hong Kong, and not an overseas lawyer who is not qualified to practise in Hong Kong. It pointed out that other countries and regions do not allow overseas lawyers who are not qualified to practice in those jurisdictions to handle national security cases.

 

The amendment to the Legal Practitioners Ordinance was introduced by the Government in 2023 with a view to addressing the potential national security risks associated with the participation in national security cases by overseas lawyers who are not qualified to practise generally in Hong Kong, and implementing the interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of Articles 14 and 47 of the National Security Law.

 

The Hong Kong SAR Government said that the report’s comments on the relevant ordinance restricting the choice of lawyers in Hong Kong are slanderous and hypocritical, and have no sound legal basis.


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