Circumventing Hong Kong law to achieve the national interest is acceptable practice, an editorial published by Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times has suggested.

Writing on the case of missing bookseller Lee Bo, the piece argues that enforcement agencies across the world have extralegal means of forcing suspects to cooperating—and Hong Kong should be no exception.

The Communist Party mouthpiece said on Wednesday that such methods “could achieve the purpose of the investigation and yet at the same time make sure no line is crossed.” The paper also said that if such methods had been pursued in the mainland, the investigation would be “not only reasonable but also legal.”

Groups condemn the Global Times editorial.

The Hong Kong Journalist Association and Independent Commentators Association issued a joint statement criticising the editorial, which they said represented the abandonment of the One Country, Two Systems policy.

The groups said that it was both shocking and frightening that a government mouthpiece would openly state that laws protecting Hong Kong residents may be breached at any time, and urged mainland and Hong Kong authorities to immediately clarify if operations beyond the law have been undertaken.

Causeway Bay Books. Photo: Stand News.

In response to the commentary, former Law Society Chairperson Junius Ho also said that Hong Kong “values the spirit of rule of law,” RTHK reported.

“If there is any work that needs to be done, even if the mainland believes that there has been behaviour which violated the country’s law, they should still act according to the normal procedures,” Ho said.

Global Times earlier ran an article saying that a letter allegedly from Lee proved that he had not been abducted by Chinese security officers.

The paper also ran an op-ed on Tuesday accusing Hong Kong and overseas media of hyping up the incident and slamming Lee’s bookstore for spreading “evil influences.”

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.