China’s top official in Hong Kong said Friday the power of the new national security law “has started to become apparent” in the city but laws and regulations still need to be improved so that people follow it of their own accord.

Luo Huining. Photo: GovHK.

At an online event to commemorate China’s Constitution Day, the director of Beijing’s Liaison Office Luo Huining spoke of the importance of safeguarding the city’s “One Country, Two Systems” principle under the new law imposed by Beijing on June 30.

“Some people in Hong Kong only know to respect their original legal system without basic changes, and disregard fundamental changes in the special administrative region’s constitutional foundation,” Luo said. “This is the intellectual root of some of the chaos in Hong Kong in recent years.”

The mainland official said “One Country, Two systems” would not exist had there been no national security, and Hong Kong would not have been as prosperous or stable.

Patriots. Photo: GovHK.

“In these few months, the power of Hong Kong’s national security law is starting to show, and Hong Kong is entering a key phase of turning from chaos to order,” Luo said. “Many regulations under the national security law still need to be improved and transformed into a policy mechanism, in order to become a set of guiding principles for people to follow of their own accord.”

The official also said Beijing’s decision that led to the disqualification of four pro-democracy lawmakers last month had set a basic political standard of “Hong Kong ruled by patriots.” This would ensure that all politicians support the constitution and the Basic Law, and were loyal to the country and the Special Administrative Region.

“Those who create chaos in the country and in Hong Kong will be expelled from the governing bodies of Hong Kong,” Luo said.

Photo: GovHK.

The expulsion of the four caused all 15 other pro-democracy lawmakers to resign in protest, leaving Hong Kong’s legislature without any opposition members.

The government says the security law was necessary to curb widespread and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests which broke out last year. Western governments say it severely constrains rights pledged by China before the Hong Kong handover and has a chilling effect on free speech.

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.