Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, San Francisco
Hong Kong
Gov’t responds to US report

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government reiterated that foreign governments should not interfere in any form in the city's internal affairs.

It made the statement in response to comments contained in the United States Department of State’s 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices relating to the Hong Kong SAR.

The statement said since the return to the Motherland, the HKSAR has been exercising “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy in strict accordance with the Basic Law. The “one country, two systems” principle has been fully and successfully implemented.
     
It said safeguarding human rights and freedoms is the Hong Kong SAR Government’s constitutional duty. The Government attaches the utmost importance to and is firmly committed to upholding human rights and various freedoms in Hong Kong.
     
Basic Law Article 4 states that the HKSAR shall safeguard the rights and freedoms of residents and other people in the region in accordance with the law. In addition, human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong are fully protected by the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other legislation.
     
Rights and freedoms in Hong Kong are underpinned by the rule of law and judicial independence, which are the cornerstones of the HKSAR’s common law system and are well recognized internationally. The over 54,000 peaceful public assemblies and processions held between 2014 and May 2019 strongly testify to this commitment.
     
Since June 2019, more than 1,400 public demonstrations, processions and public meetings were held, but many ended in serious violence such as hurling petrol bombs and burning or vandalizing shops.
    
The degree and extent of violence committed by radical protesters was unprecedented in Hong Kong and it seriously endangered people’s personal safety, public order and security.

Faced with this situation, the Hong Kong Police is duty-bound to take appropriate actions, including the use of necessary force to restore law and order. In the process, police officers also faced threats of serious injuries or death.

Complaints against Police will be handled professionally and impartially under a well-established mechanism. In addition, the Independent Police Complaints Council is conducting a fact-finding study on the handling of large-scale public order events since June 2019, including Police’s corresponding actions, to ascertain the facts. It will prepare a report and its content will be made public.
     
The statement reiterated that whilst the SAR Government has steadfastly safeguarded the freedoms of speech and peaceful assembly, such freedoms are not absolute in other jurisdictions.

The International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights provides that restrictions might be imposed by law if it is necessary to protect national security, public safety, public order or the rights and freedoms of others.
     
The Basic Law clearly stipulates that the HKSAR is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Any suggestion for Hong Kong’s independence is a blatant violation of the Basic Law and a direct affront to the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the PRC.

Hong Kong’s independence runs counter to the successful implementation of “one country, two systems” and undermines the HKSAR’s constitutional and legal foundations as enshrined in the Basic Law. Relevant international human rights conventions and court cases have clearly pointed out that freedom of speech is not absolute.
     
On elections, the Basic Law stipulates that HKSAR permanent residents shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for elections in accordance with the law.

At the same time, the SAR Government has a duty to implement and uphold the Basic Law and to ensure that all elections will be conducted in accordance with the Basic Law and relevant electoral laws. Any allegations of political censorship, restriction of freedom of speech or deprivation of the right to stand for elections are totally unfounded.
     
As for constitutional development, universal suffrage of “one person, one vote” for selecting the Chief Executive and electing all Legislative Council members is enshrined as an ultimate aim in the Basic Law.

To achieve this aim, the community needs to engage in dialogues, premised on the legal basis and under a peaceful atmosphere with mutual trust, with a view to narrowing differences and attaining a consensus.

The SAR Government will assess the situation carefully and take forward constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law and the National People's Congress Standing Committee’s relevant interpretation and decisions.

As a matter of fact, the SAR Government took forward constitutional development in accordance with the law between 2013 and 2015, and put forward a practicable proposal for selecting the Chief Executive by universal suffrage. However, the proposal was vetoed by LegCo members who claimed to strive for democracy.
     
Regarding prosecutions, the SAR Government is committed to safeguarding the rule of law and judicial independence in Hong Kong.

Basic Law Article 63 entrenches the constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence. The Department of Justice is free from any interference in conducting all criminal prosecutions. Decisions to prosecute or not must be based on an objective and professional assessment of available evidence and the law, and in accordance with the published Prosecution Code.

No political consideration is being taken into account at all and there is no question of “political prosecutions”, the SAR Government added.


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