Former Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan has told a Chinese state-owned publication that Beijing’s new Hong Kong national security law has many benefits and will bring stability to the city, the publication says. The law has drawn international condemnation for threatening Hong Kong’s autonomy.
China News Service, the second largest state-owned news agency in China after Xinhua, reports that Chan said in an interview that all countries need national security laws, and that the new legislation will end unrest in Hong Kong.
Chan said there may be initial issues while society adopts the new law, but said he expects the people of Hong Kong will understand the purpose is to get the city out of the current “predicament” and get back on the right track, the publication reported.
The law, passed by the standing committee of Beijing’s rubber-stamp legislature on June 30 and enacted on July 1, stipulates punishment up to life in prison for acts of subversion, terrorism, and “colluion with foreign forces.” It also allows the creation of a security agency in Hong Kong under the direct control of Beijing. The agency is not under the control of the Hong Kong government and not subject to the authority of Hong Kong police.
In response to the new law, Ottawa restricted the export of sensitive goods to Hong Kong and suspended its extradition treaty.
“We are extremely concerned about the situation in Hong Kong,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Reacting to the introduction of the law, the United States ended Hong Kong’s special economic treatment, and U.S. lawmakers approved new sanctions on Chinese officials.
U.S. President Donald Trump called the law a tragedy for the world, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the law’s passage “signals the death of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle,” referring to the framework under which Beijing pledged to govern Hong Kong upon its handover.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also called the law a “clear and serious breach” of the “one country, two systems” agreement.
A coalition of over 900 parliamentarians from 443 countries or territories also denounced the new law, calling it “a comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms.”
Chan was the subject of a warning to the Ontario government in 2010 by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service over fears that he was under the influence of China, according to a report by The Globe and Mail. The report said CSIS was concerned that Chan was too close with the Chinese Consulate in Toronto, and feared that he was susceptible to interference from Beijing. Chan launched a lawsuit against the Globe over its reporting.
Last year, Chan spoke at a rally organized by pro-Beijing groups to denounce the protesters in Hong Kong.
The protests in Hong Kong began as demonstrations against an extradition bill that would allow authorities to send those wanted by Beijing to the mainland, but evolved to demand more democratic rights and condemn police brutality against the protesters.
In an interview with the China News Service at the time, Chan said the protesters were very extreme, and contrary to media reports in the West about excessive violence used by Hong Kong police, the police have shown a lot of restraint. If it was in the West, he said, police would have fired live ammunition at the protesters in the same circumstances.
He also blamed “outside forces” for fuelling the protests, aligned with how Beijing characterizes the origin of the protests in Hong Kong.
“If it wasn’t for a deep-pocketed organization in here, or a deep-pocketed push from the outside, there wouldn’t be such a massive unrest in Hong Kong,” he said.
In the latest interview with the network, Chan said he has confidence that the “one country, two systems” is working well in Hong Kong.
“With the support of mainland China to Hong Kong, and deepening development of Hong Kong, we should have full confidence in the prospects of the ‘one country, two systems,’” Chan said.