(Clearwisdom.net May 4, 2003) On May 2nd, the United States State Department expressed "strong concern" about Hong Kong's anti-subversion law. A survey in Hong Kong shows that over 80% of media workers believe the Article 23 anti-subversion law will infringe the freedom of news reporting. Roman Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong Chen Rijun gave a strongly worded public statement condemning the government as "looting a burning house," imposing Article 23 while Hong Kong is fighting with "SARS" disaster.

BBC reported on May 3rd that a United States State Department spokesperson said the American government acknowledged that Tung Cheehwa's government had revised the draft of Article 23 because it caused strong argument in last year's consultation period. He said that the United States wanted the Hong Kong government to accept more suggestions to protect human rights and clear up the vagueness of the legislation's wording. He said the United States had "strong concern" over clauses "Banning organizations hurting national security". The current draft blurs the difference between Hong Kong and China's legal systems.

The U.S. State Department urges the Hong Kong government to seriously consider concerns raised by the international community about Article 23.

Entering Formal Legislation Procedure

BBC reported that the Hong Kong government published a draft of the new "National Security Regulations" on February 14 2003, which meant that Article 23 had entered the formal legislative process.

People opposing the law said they were shocked to see the law added a "secret trial". At the same time, the draft excluded "Public Benefit" as a reason to appeal. People were worried that media workers might be detained or sentenced because of reporting sensitive news about China. But the Director of Department of Security Ms. Ye Liu Shuyi reaffirmed that the law would not hurt the local press freedoms.

People also expressed concerned that Hong Kong will use the law to outlaw Falun Gong group which was persecuted in China.

While residents unite to fight "SARS", the legislative committee speeds up the process

Hong Kong's Apple Daily reported on May 4th that Bishop Chen Rijun who had criticized the Hong Kong government on Residency and Article 23 Legislation, called on the public to support the government to fight against "SARS". But the Hong Kong government and the Legislative Committee used the opportunity of "SARS" to speed up the Article 23 process. Bishop Chen then angrily stated at a Public Hearing on May 3rd that the government and "royalists" were "looting a burning house", humiliating the people's intelligence. He said their behaviors were "shameful and sad".

On the last day of the Public Hearing, Bishop Chen Rijun also called on the new Beijing government leaders to "take some time to pay attention to Hong Kong, where a few so-called Patriots are severely damaging the 'One Country, Two Systems' policy."

Bishop Chen, who is famous for his honest and frank words, once openly urged the people not to criticize the government when fighting against SARS" so as to help the government during the difficult time. In his statement, he said he didn't want to express "strong objections", but he was so "disappointed and angered" at the current Article 23 legislative procedure.

Criticism from International Media

The Apple Daily reported that Hong Kong government's Article 23 legislation could not win support from the international community. Canada World Post published an editorial before the end of last year, calling Hong Kong Special Region Government to handle Article 23 cautiously. The editorial said whether Hong Kong could handle Article 23 properly would decide the fate of Hong Kong.

The New York Times and the UK Financial Times also criticized Hong Kong's Article 23 legislation. The New York Times said if China forces Hong Kong to legislate Article 23, it will suffer great loss. Hong Kong will lose its status as world financial center. Financial Times said after the Article 23 public consultation period ended, the future of those opposing Hong Kong's government was more and more unclear.

Survey Shows National Security Law Damages Freedom of the Press

A survey by Ming Newspaper reported on May 3rd that over 80 percent of media workers believed the National Security Law will damage their freedom to collect and report news. If the committee passes the law, 60% of the interviewees believed it would interfere with normal news collecting. 65% of the interviewees believed the law would put pressure on choosing report methods and news material selection.

The Hong Kong News Administration Association sent questionnaires to every media organization after the draft was published to collect their opinions on the national security law. It had received total 409 returned questionnaires.