Security legislation has ended unrest caused by Hong Kong independence activism, according to Beijing’s agency head, as he emphasised the significance of patriotic education.

A day ahead of the 71st anniversary of the founding of People’s Republic of China, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Vice-chair Tung Chee-hwa, Director of the Office for Safeguarding National Security Zheng Yanxiong and other top central government representatives attended a celebration on Wednesday.

luo huining
Luo Huining. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Liaison Office Director Luo Huining said at the ceremony that China’s decision to impose the controversial law prevented Hong Kong from falling into the abyss of a “colour revolution.”

“The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress ordered the national security legislation, which ended the savage unrest caused by Hong Kong independence and dark violence. We are welcoming an era of transition, from instability to order,” he said.

He added it was important to enhance national education for public servants and teenagers regarding the Chinese constitution, the Basic Law, national security, Chinese history and culture.

“Throughout the years [after the 1997 handover] some people are still diluting the national consciousness in Hong Kong society. They attempt to distort the definition of ‘two systems’ to combat ‘one country’.”

He spoke of an unstable situation in the global community and said it was a time when Hong Kong particularly needed to be backed by China. He added it was important to emphasise obligation to one’s country.

“As a Chinese person, being a patriot is never by choice. It is an obligation and it is the correct way.”

October 1, 2019 National Day protset
Prominent pro-democracy figures including media mogul Jimmy Lai, veteran activist Lee Cheuk-yan and Civil Human Rights Front’s Figo Chan among the crowds that marched on October 1, 2019. Photo: Studio Incendo.

Luo also said Hongkongers should all defend the sovereignty, national security and development interest of China: “We should safeguard the bottomline of ‘One Country.’ If we do not protect ‘One Country’ as the fundamental basis, there will be no force behind the ‘Two Systems’.”

Demonstrations are expected on Thursday, as the city marks the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese National Day. Although police rejected an application from the Civil Human Rights Front – a coalition of pro-democracy groups – to hold a procession on Hong Kong Island, calls for territory-wide gatherings at major shopping malls continue to circulate on the internet.

Admins of a Telegram channel called “Fifteenth Night Operation” have also said they will release further information about “non-peaceful” actions at 5pm on Thursday. The Liaison Office earlier warned against potential “terrorist attacks” on that day.

The Security Bureau also released a statement on Wednesday cautioning the public against participating in unauthorised assemblies, citing online protest calls.

“Some even advocate the use of violence, including attacking police stations, hurling petrol bombs and illegally blocking roads, blatantly defying the rule of law and seriously jeopardising public peace and social order.”

riot police cordon
Photo: Studio Incendo.

“The police will not condone any illegal and violent act, and will strictly enforce the law to ensure public peace and public safety,” the statement read. Local media quoted police sources as saying the force will deploy more than 6,000 office in anticipation of city-wide demonstrations.

The Hong Kong Alliance said it will stage a protest outside the Liaison Office in Sai Wan in the morning, demanding the immediate release of dissidents detained by Chinese authorities.

Family members of 12 Hongkongers thought to be detained in Shenzhen’s Yantian District Detention Centre marched from Western Police Station to the Liaison Office on Wednesday.

The fugitives boarded a speedboat en route to Taiwan’s Kaohsiung on August 23, local media reported. China’s Coast Guards rounded them up for allegedly crossing the border illegally. Family-appointed lawyers have repeatedly been denied access to their clients, though Hong Kong authorities claim the suspects are in good health.

owen chow hong kong twelve detainees
Photo: Stand News.

Thirty-nine days after their detention, the local court in China has not yet issued arrest and the current status of the detaineees remains unclear. Their family members held placards reading “Give back my children” and said they did not accept the “state lawyers” currently representing the detainees.

They demanded a meeting with Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung and Secretary for Security John Lee, as well as requesting the Marine Department, to disclose radar records of the day of the incident.

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Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.