Hong Kong will enact new local national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law and review existing laws to better target security threats, leader Carrie Lam announced.

The chief executive, in her 2021 Policy Address on Wednesday, laid out five new objectives for the safeguarding of security, including preventing “terrorist activities” by supervising schools, launching new programmes to help detained youths and introducing more oath-taking arrangements for public officials.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam
Chief Executive Carrie Lam. File Photo: GovHK.

The new policies aim to safeguard the city’s national security in a “comprehensive manner,” Lam said, adding that there was still a “substantial amount” of work to be done.

The aim is “to prevent those who are opposed to China and attempt to destabilise Hong Kong from taking advantage of the situation to mislead the public with ill intentions.”

Lam said the city was entering a new era for the city in the last year of her current term, saying policies initiated by the central government in the past year have put the One Country, Two Systems framework back on track.

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“To ensure the robustness of “One Country, Two Systems”, the HKSAR must continually improve the governance system under “One Country, Two Systems,” resolve the problems at root and restore order from chaos,” she said.

National security cases

The government plans to hold public consultations in the upcoming legislative term before the implementation of the local national security legislation under Article 23. There were however no details as to the timetable and scope of the consultations.

A government source told HKFP that the legislation will be drafted in consultation with relevant mainland departments.

The legislation is expected to be implemented within the next legislative term, by 2026.

Policy Address 2021
Policy Address 2021. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

“The government is looking to adapt [legislation] in view of the sheer amount of recent NSL cases,” a government source said, in reference to national security cases.

Beijing imposed its own version of a national security law on Hong Kong in June 2020 and some 150 people have been arrested under it since then. Under the Basic Law, the city is still supposed to pass its own security legislation.

On Wednesday, Lam also said last year’s Beijing-enacted security law and subsequent overhaul of the city’s electoral system was strictly in accordance with the Chinese constitution and the Basic Law. She slammed accusations that the policies had undermined the One Country, Two Systems framework as “nonsense and groundless.”

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.