The Whole World Focuses on Hong Kong: The Campaign against Article 23 Legislation Continues (Photos)
(Clearwisdom.net June 27, 2003) Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will visit Hong Kong at the end of this month for 3 days. This is his first trip to Hong Kong as Prime Minster. He will arrive at Hong Kong on the afternoon of June 30 and is expected to stay for 3 days before leaving on the afternoon of July 2, 2003. During recent months, Hong Kong's non-governmental organizations have called on Hong Kong residents to participate in a grand public march against the Article 23 legislation. The hotel where Primer Wen will stay is on the coast and near the procession of the July 1 march.
Hong Kong media reports that Chinese President Hu Jintao planned to attend the celebration ceremony for Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule six years ago, but that Primer Wen will go instead as President Hu will make a speech in Beijing on July 1.
Under Mainland China's pressure, the Hong Kong government intends to swiftly enact Article 23 legislation on July 9. In response, Hong Kong citizens will hold a grand march on July 1st with the theme, "Against Article 23 Legislation, Return Political Power to the People." The sponsors appealed, "We don't believe that a march of one million Hong Kong people won't be able to stop the enactment of Article 23 legislation."
It is reported that China is persuading all employees in pro-China organizations not to participate in the march.
Several doctors motivated other doctors and nurses to participate in the grand march and said that the government was in a hurry to make legislation on Article 23. Their spokesman, Mai, said that several thousands doctors and nurses would be participating in the march. He hoped that the doctors would wear doctors' coats in the march. In addition, several social workers and a university instructor also called on residents and social workers to participate in the event.
The government will hold a flag-raising ceremony on Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai to celebrate July 1 as in the last few years. At the same time, the government also will hold a series of celebratory activities, including one hundred banquet tables and 10,000 movie tickets etc, which will be distributed free to residents. The Director of Department of Resident Affairs stressed that the government's activity was not intended to reduce the number of people participating in the grand march, but to provide the residents with various choices for July 1.
International media believe that whatever the nature of the demonstration, it will cause concern and worry in international commerce circles and even affect the appraisal of Hong Kong's investment environment, resulting in hesitation to invest in Hong Kong.
Mr. Martin Lee Chu-ming, the drafting committee member of the Basic Law, pointed out that the Hong Kong government reversed the proper order by making legislation on Article 23 before a democratic system was set up. Mr. Lee said the time and content should be determined by both the government and people. Margaret Ng, member of Hong Kong Legislation Committee said that legislation on Article 23 was against the "one country two systems" policy, and would introduce the mainland's concept of national security to Hong Kong.
To support Hong Kong citizens' July 1st Grand March, the Global Coalition Against Article 23 Legislation will hold a public rally on Saturday, June 28 in Washington DC, USA. Meanwhile, branch organizations of the Global Coalition Against Article 23 Legislation around the world will also hold activities to support the event. President of the Global Coalition Against Article 23 Mr. Wang Tao revealed, "Recently the number of signatures on the Global Coalition Against Article 23 Legislation website has rapidly increased, In the past five days, the number of signatures reached 10,000, and the total number of signatures currently stands at 26,000."
The White House released a statement on June 19 pointing out that Hong Kong's Legislative Council is in the final stages of considering internal security legislation mandated by Article 23 of the territory's Basic Law. Article 23 legislation, as currently drafted, could harm local freedoms and autonomy over time. The United States urges Hong Kong's Legislative Council to adopt amendments to correct these shortcomings.
The Central News Agency reported that the White House pointed out that Hong Kong's Legislative Council will conduct a final vote on Article 23 legislation draft as soon as early July. The United States has concerns that the Article 23 legislation, as currently drafted, could harm local freedoms and autonomy. Especially worrisome are provisions mandating the proscription of certain kinds of popular organizations and the absence of a "public interest" defense to protect freedom of expression and the press. The United States urges Hong Kong's Legislative Council to adopt amendments to correct these shortcomings.
The White House Statement said, "Hong Kong's special status, endorsed by the United States under the Hong Kong Policy Act, depends on the local authorities' protection of human and civil rights and preservation of the territory's autonomy."
The Statement emphasized that the United States opposes any law that threatens the territory's unique identity, including the current version of Article 23 legislation.
The Statement also pointed out, "The controversy surrounding the legislation underlines the importance of Hong Kong's move toward full participatory democracy. Like Article 23, universal suffrage is enshrined in the Basic Law, and Hong Kong's leaders should now pursue it with equal industry."
According to the Article 23 bill the Hong Kong SAR announced, if a local organization were part of an organization banned by the Mainland regime for national security reasons, the Secretary for Security would be given the power to ban the local organization from holding activities. The open decrees issued by the Central Government for banning a certain organization in the Mainland for national security reasons would be applicable in Hong Kong, which would not need to gather further evidence.
According to Canada's Star, Canada has already joined the international public discussion on Hong Kong's legislation and warned that the legislation will make Hong Kong merge with the mainland into one political system.
Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham visited China on June 23 and exerted pressure specifically. He said that Hong Kong should keep its special legislature system.
Mr. Graham urged China to maintain Hong Kong as a completely autonomous area that does not just accept the requests of Beijing. The Canadian intervention was followed by the White House's strong critique, "Article 23 legislation, as currently drafted, could harm local freedoms and autonomy over time."