Safeguard national security to ensure Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity

April 15 this year was the third National Security Education Day celebrated in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since the implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong. 

This year’s National Security Education Day was highlighted by the presence of Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, who delivered a speech at the opening ceremony and the themed seminar. 

His speech was described as substantial, profound, timely and targeted, and reminded everyone in Hong Kong, including the HKSAR government and its governing team, patriotic forces, and legal professionals of the judiciary, to remain vigilant about national security and fulfil their responsibility of safeguarding the beautiful home of Hong Kong with a stronger sense of mission.

Xia’s speech addressed all Hong Kong residents, using facts to guide us in understanding the essence of national security and raising social awareness of national security. 

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He reminded us to learn from history and not forget the painful memories of the 2019 anti-extradition-bill movement, not to erase the “scar” of Hong Kong’s history, and to remain vigilant. 

We must cherish the good situation that has been achieved with the full support of the central government and the hard work and huge sacrifices of all Hong Kong residents. He emphasized that “stability” is not something that falls from the sky, and that the 2019 turmoil should never be allowed to happen again, nor should the district councils be manipulated by the anti-China subversive forces. 

Xia also showed his care for Hong Kong’s youth, and encouraged them to bravely shoulder their responsibilities to their families, Hong Kong and the country, find their position, aim for their goals, and walk their life paths. They should follow the example of patriotic veterans, pursue their dreams and work hard

Without security and stability, nothing can be achieved. “Stability” brings “prosperity”, and “stability” is the greatest blessing, while “chaos” is the greatest disaster. “National security” is the key to “Hong Kong’s security” and “families’ security”. 

He hopes that all Hong Kong residents can have a basic consensus — that we want Hong Kong to be peaceful and stable, prosperous, and thriving, united and harmonious, civilized and governed by law, rather than being chaotic and barbaric.

Xia hopes that all Hong Kong residents can contribute to safeguarding national security and protecting the peace and stability of Hong Kong, showing a sense of responsibility, and not considering themselves as “outsiders”. 

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He reminds us that a society that is divided has no future, and that safeguarding national security is not contradictory to expressing interests and demands. There are many channels and ways to express interests and demands. 

A successful society should prioritize safety and stability, inclusiveness and mutual assistance, seeking common ground while respecting differences, and rational communication, with moderation in all things.

Xia also highlighted the logical relationship between national security and the transition from order to prosperity. 

Hong Kong is currently in a new phase of transitioning from disorder to order and then to prosperity, but the root causes of disorder have yet to be eradicated, and the foundation of order still needs to be consolidated. 

To promote Hong Kong’s prosperity, two fundamental things need to be done: first, to improve the HKSAR’s judicial system and legal framework and properly handle new issues arising from the application of the National Security Law; second, to solve practical difficulties and problems faced by residents, forming a virtuous cycle where the government responds to residents’ demands and the residents support the government’s governance.

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History has shown that the root causes of disorder cannot be eradicated forever. Xia reminded the HKSAR government to remain vigilant against the resurgence of street violence, to be wary of “soft confrontation” that undermines order, and to be alert to overseas activities that use the pretext of human rights, freedom, democracy, and livelihoods to attack Hong Kong. 

The HKSAR government and legal professionals of the judiciary must be proactive in tackling these challenges and prevent the subversive forces from exploiting any opportunities. 

They should also assess the situation carefully, and plug the loopholes in national security by completing legislation according to Article 23 of the Basic Law as soon as possible, which includes strengthening the prevention of espionage and theft of State secrets, regulating false information and crowdfunding activities, and improving the regulation of financial and cybersecurity.

To consolidate the foundation of order, it is necessary to improve the quality of governance and effectively address people’s concerns. Xia reminded the HKSAR government to open channels for communication, listen to opinions from the grassroots, and encourage constructive suggestions from patriotic and pro-Hong Kong forces to help the government resolve deep-seated conflicts and problems. 

The executive, legislative and judicial branches of government should take their responsibility seriously by performing their duties according to the law, considering the overall interests of Hong Kong, and prioritizing the well-being of the Hong Kong people. 

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Only by addressing practical issues, consolidating Hong Kong’s position as an international financial, shipping, and trading center, developing international innovation and technology centers and a center for arts and cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world, and showcasing its unique advantages can Hong Kong open wider to the world and attract investors from all over the world, contributing to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in the context of Chinese-style modernization. With impressive achievements, Hong Kong can tell its stories well and refute negative comments and false accusations against the city.

One point worth noting is that the director’s speech fully embodies the spirit of President Xi Jinping’s important speeches at the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China and the inauguration of the sixth-term HKSAR government. 

Starting from the historical coordinates of anchoring the “one country, two systems” practice in Hong Kong, he used facts to prove that only by solidifying national security defense can we fully safeguard the steady and long-term implementation of “one country, two systems”. 

Xia also showed his care for Hong Kong’s youth, and encouraged them to bravely shoulder their responsibilities to their families, Hong Kong and the country, find their position, aim for their goals, and walk their life paths. They should follow the example of patriotic veterans, pursue their dreams and work hard.

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Finally, as stakeholders, contributors and beneficiaries of Hong Kong, we have a responsibility to promote national security work in the long term and contribute to maintaining harmony and stability in Hong Kong. 

As Xia said, the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process, and the progress of Hong Kong cannot be stopped by anyone or any force. 

By safeguarding national security and resolving deep-seated conflicts, the path of Hong Kong’s transition from order to prosperity will become wider and Hong Kong will surely create new brilliance. The Pearl of the Orient will continue to shine brightly.

The author is a board member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.