Commentary | Some considerations on Xianggang (known as Hong Kong)

Hong Kong. Photo: Vernon Yuen via Reuters Connect

Imperialism in its most hideous forms - i.e. colonialism and neo-colonialism - is like a leopard that cannot change its spots.

The recent events regarding the adoption of a law by the Legislative Council (Parliament) of Xianggang (mispronounced by colonialists as Hong Kong) is triggering the fury of many Westerners. Not only do they believe that Xianggang is still a British colony, but - when they realise that it was peacefully and reluctantly assigned by Great Britain to China twenty-seven years ago - they would like the West to continue dictating its rules in defiance of the Chinese people, and of the members of the Legislative Council, who are the expression of Xianggang's citizens.

Let us take a step back and dive into history to show why the “Fragrant Harbour” ended up in the greedy, dirty and bloody hands of British imperialists.

It all began when Great Britain waged the two Opium Wars (1839-42, 1856-60) to have not only the opportunity, but also the right to export drugs to the Middle Empire. Great Britain was the first “pusher” empowered by the force of its arms to sell opium to the Chinese - drugs refined and perfected through India, relegated to the status of Queen Victoria's appendage.

Hong Kong was founded as a colony of the British Empire after the Qing dynasty ceded the Xianggang Island in 1841-1842, following the loss of the First Opium War that humiliated the Middle Empire. The colony expanded to the Jiulong (Kowloon) Peninsula in 1860 and was further expanded when the United Kingdom obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898.

Two years later a multinational force consisting of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States of America landed in China to suppress the anti-colonial-imperialist Boxer Rebellion. This was followed by numerous abuses, , summary executions, killings and rapes against the Chinese civilian population, as well as looting of art objects (many of which were taken to Europe).

When the allied troops moved from Beijing into the countryside of Northern China, they executed an unknown number of people accused or suspected of being or resembling Boxer rebels. While the Allies were in Beijing, they looted palaces, yamen and government buildings, thus inflicting incalculable loss of cultural relics, literature and history books (including the famous Yongle Dadian) and damage to cultural heritage (including the Forbidden City), the Summer Palace, Xishan, and the Old Summer Palace.

More than three thousand gold-plated bronze Buddhas, 1,400 artistic object and 4,300 bronzes in the Songzhu Temple were looted. The gold plating on the copper tanks in front of the Forbidden City palaces was scraped off by the allied troops, leaving scratch marks that can be seen even today. The Yongle Dadian, compiled by 2,100 scholars during the Ming Yongle period (1403-1408), with a total of 22,870 volumes, was partially destroyed during the Second Opium War in 1860. It was later collected in the Imperial Palace on Nanchizi Street. However, it was found and completely destroyed by the Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900. Part of the Yongle Dadian was used for the construction of fortifications.

The Complete Library of the Four Treasuries (Siku Quanshu) was compiled by 360 scholars during the Qing Qianlong period. It collected 3,461 ancient books, totalling 79,309 volumes. Some of them were destroyed in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Another ten thousand volumes were devastated in 1900 by the Eight-Nation Alliance. The Hanlin Academy housed a collection of precious books, Song dynasty books, literary and historical material and valuable paintings. The Eight-Nation Alliance looted also those collections. Some of those books, which were stolen from the Chinese people, are still disgracefully kept in museums in London and Paris, without any intellectual demanding that they be returned to the Chinese people.

Following two years of fighting, the Alliance was dissolved after the signing of the Boxer Protocol in 1901 - an agreement now included in the unequal treaties imposed by violence.

Today, the “multicolour” heirs of the same imperial-colonialist thieves, murderers, rapers and grab-ups are coming back with words of freedom and democracy – their words, in the hope of continuing to exploit Xianggang at their own convenience and pleasure.

With specific reference to the new legislation on safeguarding national security in Xianggang, the misunderstandings and controversies of some people focus mainly on the following points:

1) the legislative process is too fast;

2) the new decree is too strict and some provisions are too ambiguous, leaving ample room for explanations and thus giving more powers to law enforcement agencies;

3) the law violates human rights principles and may hinder foreign companies and endanger foreigners living in Xianggang;

4) the law further pushes Xianggang to lose uniqueness and competitiveness in the world, making it a city that is not different from other cities in mainland China.

We can respond to these considerations by saying the following:

1) if there is the agreement of the Legislative Council’s members, it is not clear why it is considered to be too fast. It is ridiculous to say so especially in Italy, where citizens complain about the excessive length of judicial, procedural and bureaucratic processes.

2) It is not for third parties to judge the severity and merit of another country's laws, but it is its people who express themselves through representative institutions. This is laid down by international law; unless we intervene with humanitarian bombings and sophisticated weapons to make peoples change their minds. In any case, in doing so, we would completely eliminate the law enforcement agencies in Xianggang, as the aforementioned wish.

3) The violation of human rights, the first of which is life, should be discussed considering the inhabitants of Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki; the peoples of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and those of Africa and other parts of the world, as cannon fodder of the Western war industry.

4) Why should the Chinese not make it a city that is not different from any other city in mainland China? The answer is very simple: because, in this way, it will remain an enclave of imperialism, or even turn into a NATO military base. Xianggang is Chinese, but imperialists only want it to remain so in restaurants, postcards and souvenirs for thrill-seeking Westerners on holiday, and for profiteers and militarists with a “human” and “democratic” face.

This legislation safeguarding national security is in line with international practice. All countries in the world attach great importance to national security legislation, which is linked to the survival of a State. Xianggang is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China - not of others and has a constitutional responsibility to safeguard national security.

Through Article 23 of the Basic Law, Xianggang can supplement local legal provisions on national security, absorb the new international provisions on national security crimes, and build a comprehensive legal system to safeguard national security. Only in this way, and without external interference, will Xianggang be able to gain confidence, develop its economy in peace, and maintain long-term prosperity and stability.

National security is the cornerstone of Xianggang's development, as there will be no conflict between national security and public interests. The reason is simple: there is no public interest in the world that can endanger national security. If it endangers national security, it cannot be in the public interest.

Article 23 of the Basic Law adds certain crimes according to the needs and requirements of the current situation: it is forward-looking and should provide significant support for maintaining good governance and long-term stability in Xianggang.

Article 23 builds a strong national security wall and fills some legal loopholes. In particular, the amendment of some existing laws, the conversion of some common law crimes into statutory laws, and the creation of extraterritorial effects will give anti-Chinese and disruptive elements no room to gain a foothold in Xianggang. It is here clear that the city protects itself against other-directed colour revolutions, whose failures are sowing death in Eastern Europe.

Article 23 of Xianggang’s Basic Law is clear and reads as follows: “The Xianggang Special Administrative Region shall enact its own legislation to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion of the people's central government and any theft of State secrets, as well as prohibit organisations or political groups from conducting activities in the Xianggang Special Administrative Region, and establishing links with foreign organisations or political groups,” This means preventing interventions from abroad that endanger national security and ban organisations that engage in activities that undermine national security.

The Xianggang government promoted the provisions of Article 23 on 30 January and launched a month-long public consultation, during which more than 13,000 opinions were received, of which 98.64% expressed support and favourable opinions. On that basis, the Xianggang government drafted the bill and submitted it to the Legislative Council for review.

The regulations of the new legislative provisions studied and absorbed a large number of common law provisions and precedents, thus maintaining the consistency and synchronisation of the national security legislation with the main common law countries and regions. Its criminal law framework and punitive system are scientifically reasonable, comparable and compatible with the national security law and can be used as a reference for the areas to which common law is applicable.

The new rules and regulations have sufficient preliminary preparations, a good public base and a high level of social consensus, and are a significant benchmark for high-quality legislation in the Special Administrative Region.

All walks of life in Xianggang generally recognise that only by completing the local Article 23 legislation and further improving the institutional system of the Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security will it be possible to ensure Xianggang's prosperity and stability and the long-term implementation of the “one country, two systems” principle.

The “one country, two systems” policy helps safeguard the legitimate rights and freedoms of Xianggang residents and other citizens, in accordance with the law, and is conducive to maintaining the long-term prosperity and stability of the Xianggang Special Administrative Region.

What is referred to as the “protective wall” of prosperity and stability will ensure high-quality development with a high level of security, as well as broad prospects for governance, and prosperity in Xianggang will be furthered.

The national security system and rule of law will further provide legal deterrence for external intervention forces, and help strengthen Xianggang society's trust and identity in the rule of law, as well as improve investor confidence and strengthen Xianggang's international recognition and global service functions as international financial centre, thus optimising Xianggang's free business environment and promotion mechanism in the world.

Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is a world-renowned Italian economist and international relations expert, who serves as the President of the International Studies and Geopolitics Foundation, International World Group, Global Strategic Business In 1995, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated the Giancarlo Elia Valori chair of Peace and Regional Cooperation. Prof. Valori also holds chairs for Peace Studies at Yeshiva University in New York and at Peking University in China. Among his many honors from countries and institutions around the world, Prof. Valori is an Honorable of the Academy of Science at the Institute of France, Knight Grand Cross, Knight of Labor of the Italian Republic, Honorary Professor at the Peking University.

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