Hong Kong has been a gift, and we should protect it
Mustafa Hyder Sayed

Editor's note: Mustafa Hyder Sayed is executive director of the Pakistan-China Institute. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In order to understand the recent national security legislation deliberated by the 13th National People's Congress on Hong Kong, it is imperative to put this into the context of China's history and its experience with colonialism.

China had been subject to military and economic colonialism and internal chaos for over 100 years, which is also called the "century of humiliation." It had been coerced into signing unequal treaties that made China cede lucrative concessions to the likes of British, French and Japanese, or facing outright military invasion of its territory. The "century of humiliation" is embedded in the collective consciousness of the Chinese people as it is perceived to not only have violated the territorial integrity of China, but also taken from them their honor and pride. 

Hong Kong, being an integral part of China, is an exemplary beneficiary of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, and has served as an engine for growth in Asia and a "super-connector" for foreign investors who wished to engage with Asia and China. A stable, secure, and strong Hong Kong is in the interest of all major Western economies, including Australia, the UK and Canada, (which have just joined the U.S. bandwagon of condemning the latest security legislation), that have an economic stake in the East.

China has delivered Hong Kong as a global public good to the world. The Washington-based, conservative, Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom terms Hong Kong to have the highest degree of economic freedom in the world. This means that Hong Kong's strong institutions, regulatory framework, and robust legal system has enabled it to provide the world a unique platform for commerce and financial services. The city's serving as a global public good should be appreciated and acknowledged by the "community of nations."

Protesters break into the Legislative Council building during the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, Hong Kong, China, July 1, 2019. /Reuters

Protesters break into the Legislative Council building during the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, Hong Kong, China, July 1, 2019. /Reuters

The Basic Law was adopted by the National People's Congress on April 4, 1990, and came into effect on July 1, 1997, when Hong Kong was returned to China, ending more than a century of colonial rule over the region. The national security legislation, put forth at the 13th National People's Congress, is consistent with the Basic Law. Article 23 of the Basic Law says that Hong Kong "shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act which are harmful to national security." Since Hong Kong has seen persistent violence, disruption of economic activity and some Hong Kong individuals and groups have challenged the fundamental basis of the constitution that governs the region, the step taken by the 13th NPC is opportune and appropriate.

Why wouldn't it be? The NPC has the right to exercise its powers to legislate and make laws on issues relevant within China. Why should China have to explain to the world when it passes a law pertaining to its internal affairs within the realm of its territorial sovereignty?

Whether it is scapegoating China for COVID-19 or using ultra-nationalism within the domestic populace to muster political support for presidential elections, targeting Huawei so it is unable to lead the world in 5G technology, or passing legislation that interferes in the internal affairs of China, talking down or targeting China would get us nowhere. The U.S. needs to come up with an alternative and more sustainable strategy

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging multilateralism and an impending global recession may happen, countries should focus on preserving globalization and multilateral cooperation frameworks rather than engaging in divisive politicking which just make the chances of winning against collective, global challenges like this pandemic slimmer.

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