China’s Premier highlights defence of national security in Macau and HK

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has highlighted today (Friday) the necessity to establish sound legal systems to defend national security in Macau and Hong Kong.

While delivering a report on the government’s work at the third annual session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, Li also defended the full implementation of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle.

“We fully and faithfully implement the policy of One Country, Two Systems, under which the people of Hong Kong govern Hong Kong and the people of Macau govern Macao, with a high degree of autonomy for both regions,” Li defended.

The Chinese Premier also underlined the Chinese government intentions to better integrate both SARs in China’s development.

Yesterday it was revealed that the NPC will deliberate on a bill reviewing a draft decision on establishing changes to the Hong Kong legal system and enforcement mechanisms to safeguard national security.

The bill proposal, which has been condemned by the United States and Hong Kong pro-democracy figures as an assault on the city’s freedoms, will be discussed by the NPC.

The Macau SAR passed a national security law in 2009, covering acts of sedition, secession, subversion, and treason against the central government of the People’s Republic of China.

No law has been enforced in Hong Kong since the former British colony reverted to Chinese control in 1997, mainly due to fears by the local public and political opposition that the new law could lead to abuses against local rights protected by the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle.

However, after massive and sometimes violent protests took place last year in Hong Kong against perceived Beijing’s growing control, Chinese authorities allegedly decided to go forward with security legislation without approval from the SAR Legislative Council.

NO GDP goals but increased military spending

The start of the NPC session – delayed for two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic – also saw the Chinese Premier not setting a Gross Domestic Product growth target for 2020 for the first time ever, as Beijing looks to recover the hailing country’s economy.

“We do not set the specific GDP target mainly due to the global pandemic and big uncertainties about the economy and trade. China is facing unpredictable factors in its development,” Li stated today.

The pandemic has led to China’s GDP to drop 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, the first time since 1992.

Beijing also announced an increase in central government budget deficit target to 3.6 per cent of GDP this year to allow for more spending to boost the economy, with the government special bond quota set at RMB3.75 trillion yuan and maintaining tax cuts measures that would save RMB2.5 trillion in expenses to corporations.

However, the Chinese central government still announced a 6.6 per cent year-on-year rise in its military budget to RMB1.27 trillion despite the current economic climate.

China will also significantly shorten its negative list for foreign investment, boost its energy reserve capacity, establish new pilot free trade zones (FTZs) and integrated bonded areas in the country’s central and western regions while safeguarding the multilateral trading regime and actively participate in the reform of the World Trade Organization, the work report indicated.