Safeguarding national security – our collective responsibility
Safeguarding national security – our collective responsibility
National security concerns the welfare of 1.4 billion population of China and the Central People’s Government bears fundamental responsibilities in safeguarding national security. “National security” means a status in which the sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity, sustainable economic and social development, and other major interests of the state are relatively not faced with any danger and not threatened internally or externally, and the capability to maintain a sustained security status.
The Central National Security Commission emphasises the adherence to the “holistic view of national security”, the important areas of which include political security, homeland security, military security, economic security, cultural security, social security, technological security, cyber security, ecological security, resource security, nuclear security, overseas interests security, biosecurity, and security in new domains (space security, deep sea security, polar security).
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China. The HKSAR has the constitutional duty to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. Every Hong Kong resident should abide by the Basic Law and the laws of Hong Kong, and act in accordance with the law.
Our responsibility to act in accordance with the law
The National People’s Congress adopted the “Decision of the National People’s Congress on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to Safeguard National Security” at the Third Session of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress on 28 May 2020. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed on 30 June 2020 the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the Hong Kong National Security Law) and listed the Hong Kong National Security Law in Annex III to the Basic Law after consulting the Committee for the Basic Law and the HKSAR Government in accordance with the procedures under Article 18 of the Basic Law. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government promulgated the Hong Kong National Security Law for implementation on the same day and the Hong Kong National Security Law took effect at 11pm on that day.
The HKSAR Government strives to improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security. On the institutional set-up, the HKSAR Government has established the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, whereas the Hong Kong Police Force and the Department of Justice have respectively established specific departments in implementing the Hong Kong National Security Law.
Since the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law, the Security Bureau has been leading the disciplined forces (Hong Kong Police Force, Customs and Excise Department (Hong Kong Customs), Immigration Department (ImmD), Correctional Services Department (CSD), Fire Services Department and Government Flying Services (GFS)) to fulfil resolutely the responsibility of safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests. Brief descriptions of the relevant duties of each disciplined force is set out below. Moreover, under the coordination of the Security Bureau, officers from the disciplined forces also serve as “Special Constables”, striving to protect public safety, handle emergencies, etc. Such arrangement helps enhance the manpower and strength of the Hong Kong Police Force.
Hong Kong Police Force
The responsibilities of the Hong Kong Police Force include but are not limited to the following, seeking to safeguard and protect national security –
- safeguard national security
- maintain law and order
- combat violent crime, syndicated and organised crime
- combat “quick cash crime”
- combat deception and money laundering crime
- strengthen cyber security and combat technology crime
- maintain public order and safety
- maintain road safety
- ensure preparedness for major incidents
- combat terrorism
The Hong Kong Police Force has set up the National Security Department to implement the Hong Kong National Security Law, proactively implementing the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security. The duties and functions of the department are –
- collecting and analysing intelligence and information concerning national security;
- planning, coordinating and enforcing measures and operations for safeguarding national security;
- investigating offences endangering national security;
- conducting counter-interference investigation and national security review;
- carrying out tasks of safeguarding national security assigned by the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; and
- performing other duties and functions necessary for the enforcement of the Hong Kong National Security Law.
As one of the disciplined services of the HKSAR Government, the ImmD stands firmly in supporting the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law and resolutely performs its duties in safeguarding national security. Apart from facilitating genuine visitors and professionals coming to Hong Kong, the ImmD also spares no effort to implement strict immigration and visa control to prevent undesired persons from entering into or staying in Hong Kong, as well as stopping suspected law offenders from departing Hong Kong. The control points under the ImmD also maintain close communication with its Counter Terrorism Operations Section and Investigation Sub-division at all times, and make targeted deployment against suspected terrorists or suspicious persons from high risks areas. Moreover, in the light of terrorist threat assessments and actual circumstances, the ImmD takes appropriate control measures and steps up interception and examination of suspected persons at various control points. Officers from the Counter Terrorism Operations Section will also conduct operations at various control points to intercept and refuse persons with suspicious motives from landing.
Regarding the aspects of combatting crimes, the ImmD has actively strengthened its efforts in intelligence exchange, analysis and enforcement as well as given its full strengths on investigating and preventing immigration related crimes and terrorism, and combatting cross-border smuggling and syndicates in trafficking activities. The ImmD has proactively exchanged counter-terrorism intelligence with local, Mainland and overseas law enforcement agencies via various channels, and has intercepted suspicious persons based on analysis of intelligence, with a view to ensuring that our nation and the HKSAR are safe from the threats of terrorism and terrorist activities.
During the pandemic, the ImmD has proactively participated in the anti-epidemic work including deploying its staff members to Japan and to the Mainland to assist Hong Kong residents stranded there, and to participate in the community testing programme and contact tracing work.
The ImmD fully follows the key aspects of the holistic view of national security and works closely with relevant authorities to prevent and suppress any act or activity which endangers the security of our nation and of Hong Kong. The ImmD is committed to ensuring the steadfast and successful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” and contributing to the long-term prosperity and stability of our country as well as Hong Kong by fearlessly guarding the Southern gateway to our country.
Hong Kong Customs
The Hong Kong Customs strives to reinforce its functions with a view to preserving the stability of Hong Kong, safeguarding national security, and ensuring the implementation of the holistic view of national security.
As the “gatekeeper” of the country, Hong Kong Customs shoulders the responsibility of safeguarding the security of its Southern gateway. The duties of Hong Kong Customs - in particular in combating and curbing smuggling of firearms, ammunition and weapons, strategic commodities, narcotics, endangered species, foods, hazardous wastes, dutiable tobacco products, counterfeit goods and other controlled items - are closely intertwined with the holistic view of national security. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Customs also protects and collects duties in relation to dutiable commodities, protects intellectual property and consumer rights, regulates money service operators, fights against money laundering and terrorist financing, and facilitates and promotes legitimate trading activities.
Through the Inter-departmental Counter Terrorism Unit which was established under the lead of the Security Bureau, Hong Kong Customs collaborates with other law enforcement agencies to take forward a series of counter-terrorist initiatives, which include establishing a counter-terrorism intelligence exchange mechanism and platform, organizing inter-departmental counter-terrorism exercises and training, and promoting counter-terrorism awareness and education of the public.
Fire Services Department
The Fire Services Department strives to fulfil its mission of safeguarding the people of Hong Kong by protecting their lives and property from fire or other calamities and making Hong Kong a safe place to live and work. In safeguarding the security of Hong Kong on the following fronts, the duties and responsibilities of the Fire Services Department include:
- Conduct risk assessment, perform firefighting and emergency rescue services with strategic and flexible deployment in potential large-scale incidents.
- Handle incidents involving hazardous materials and provide on-site decontamination and emergency ambulance services to people in need.
- Disseminate emergency preparedness information through the social media, promote public education and make timely clarifications in response to inaccurate media reports.
- Prevent the use of dangerous goods for purposes endangering national security by combating illegal activities concerned and taking legal action against them.
The Fire Services Department will continue to support and work in tandem with the HKSAR Government in implementing the Hong Kong National Security Law for better protection of the public.
Correctional Services Department
- The CSD has implemented strategic measures in various areas, such as institutional operation, security and emergency response, to prevent persons in custody (PICs) from developing or building up power to oppose the Central Authorities and disrupt Hong Kong. The Department assigns PICs with the same background to different institutions according to the existing mechanism, so as to prevent them from assembling inside prisons and committing unlawful acts. The Department has been developing the “Smart Prison” management mode through the progressive application of innovation and new technologies to enhance the institutional security and its supervision capabilities.
- The CSD has designed a comprehensive range of rehabilitation and education programmes to help PICs turn over a new leaf. For young PICs, the Department has launched an education programme named “Understanding History is the Beginning of Knowledge”, which aims to enhance young offenders’ understanding of China and Hong Kong and strengthen their sense of national identity through a diversified mode of learning. Besides, the Department is actively planning the establishment of the “Youth Lab”, which will provide courses with content covering the Hong Kong National Security Law to assist young PICs to rectify their criminogenic mindset and behaviours. The Department has also established the “Life Gym – Positive Living Centre for Men” and the “PSY GYM - Personal Growth and Emotional Treatment Centre for Women” to provide gender-specific psychological treatment programmes for adult male and female PICs respectively to help them desist from crime and cultivate positive living.
- The CSD proactively promotes community education. The “Rehabilitation Pioneer Project” disseminates the message of leading a law-abiding life to secondary students and youngsters and provides them with knowledge about safeguarding national security through social media from time to time. Besides, through the uniformed group, the “Rehabilitation Pioneers Leaders”, the Department enables young people to broaden their horizons, develop good discipline and build stronger sense of social responsibility, and they in turn will help promote law-abiding and inclusive values.
Government Flying Service
The GFS is fully committed to providing all-weather aviation support through professional excellence, with a view to providing full assistance and support to relevant departments in delivering all their duties to safeguard national security.
- The GFS conducts exercises with Counter Terrorist partners including the Inter-departmental Counter-terrorism Unit and other relevant law enforcement departments to strengthen operational competency and standards to uphold homeland security and social security.
- One of the major responsibilities of the GFS lies in search and rescue operations. With an area of responsibility covers up to 1 300 km south of Hong Kong covering a major part of the South China Sea, GFS officers are determined to provide the best emergency response to save lives over land and at sea, both within Hong Kong and offshore, relieving citizens and seamen from distress.
- The GFS supports various disciplined services and law enforcement agencies to carry out anti-crime operations, such as aerial patrol and surveillance to tackle burglary, smuggling and illegal immigrants activities; rapid transfer of response personnel to remote locations to respond to urgent incidents or emergencies, with a view to preserving law and order and protecting the safety of Hong Kong.
From order to prosperity Ensuring “One Country, Two Systems”
The implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law has delivered immediate results. With the effort of the Hong Kong Police Force and other disciplined forces, Hong Kong has emerged from chaos into stability, with a significant reduction in violent acts; advocacy of “Hong Kong independence” has subsided substantially; the community has largely returned normal, and people’s lawful rights are protected. Our economy and people's livelihood could revive. The Security Bureau, together with other departments of the HKSAR Government, will continue to strengthen publicity and education to enhance Hong Kong people’s understanding of national security and law-abiding awareness. The Security Bureau will continue to lead the disciplined forces to fully discharge their due responsibilities to implement the Hong Kong National Security Law, with a view to ensuring the continued success of “One Country, Two Systems”, and preserving Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.