Hong Kong has achieved ‘soft landing’ with Article 23 law, top adviser says

Hong Kong has achieved a “soft landing” with the enactment of its domestic national security law, a top government adviser has said, pointing to the “relatively gentle” reaction from the international and local community to the legislation.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, convenor of the government’s key decision-making Executive Council, argued the current situation was an “inflection point” for the city and provided an ideal atmosphere for her inaugural Global Prosperity Summit aimed at facilitating more exchanges between the city and the rest of the world, slated for next month.

“It has already been one month since the legislation of Article 23. We have achieved a soft landing,” she said, referring to the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance. “In this month, you can see no matter if it is foreign businesses or governments, or even local people, they are not really concerned about it. The reaction is relatively gentle.”

The current period was a “good inflection point” for members of the public to consider how they could do more for the city, as well as maximise Hong Kong’s value as an intermediary and a platform for exchanges and communication.

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The Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, passed swiftly by the city’s legislature in March, covers 39 offences divided into five categories. Photo: ISD

The Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, passed swiftly by the city’s legislature in March, covers 39 offences divided into five categories: treason; insurrection, incitement to mutiny and disaffection and acts with seditious intention; sabotage; external interference endangering national security; and theft of state secrets and espionage.

Several Western countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada as well as the European Union, have raised concerns over the new law, fearing it would diminish the rights and freedoms entitled to local residents.

Ip, also a lawmaker who chairs the New People’s Party, was speaking at an event to introduce the inaugural Global Prosperity Summit, where she is one of the founders.

The event, which will be held May 13 to 15, will involve five panels speaking on topics such as international politics, scientific cooperation and sustainable development.

Guests invited to speak at the event include former acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs for the United States Susan Thornton, Nobel laureate in chemistry Roger Kornberg, Academic Advisory Council chairman of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies Yang Jiemian and Johns Hopkins University Professor of Applied Economics Steve Hanke. Thornton and Hanke will be joining virtually.

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Ip said that the purpose of hosting the event was to help the city “make friends” and facilitate more exchanges between Hong Kong and the rest of the world.

“As everyone knows, the West would have some wrong conceptions of China, which includes Hong Kong, due to some overly politicised reporting,” she said. “I hope that through more exchanges and communication, we can facilitate the correct understanding of China, which includes Hong Kong.”

Ip said she hoped the event could be hosted annually.

Asked about the guest line-up, Ip said that they aimed to invite “influential people”, particularly those with knowledge of international affairs and geopolitics, as well as those with more “objective” opinions.

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Ip noted that none of the guests from the US or Europe said they were worried about attending the summit due to concerns about the city’s national security laws, emphasising that those who could not attend simply had other engagements.

She added organisers would also not coordinate with the speakers on their comments, as they wanted to provide a forum for different perspectives.

Asked whether she would be interested in inviting former Hong Kong-based chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia Stephen Roach, Ip said she did not think he understood the city.

Roach wrote an opinion piece earlier that suggested “Hong Kong is over”, which drew strongly worded rebuttals from local political and business heavyweights, including Ip, who accused him of failing to understand the city or being “too arrogant” to admit he was wrong.

“He is actually about to visit Hong Kong again soon. I know friends in the business sector who have invited him for a meal,” she said. “I have rejected [the offers], I am not going.”

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