Authorities have strictly held violators accountable over the past two years
Fruitful results were achieved since the National Security Law for Hong Kong was enforced in 2020, but the city still needs to be vigilant about national security risks, said Hong Kong Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung.
Looking back on the past two years since the law was approved, Tang said the authorities have been very strict in enforcing the law and holding violators accountable.
A total of 186 people have been detained in connection with national security offenses, and 115 suspects were prosecuted, including five companies, he said in an interview ahead of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland on Friday.
Tang said they include media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and Apple Daily, the publication he used to incite others, as well as former members of the Legislative Council. Ten people involved in eight cases were convicted, with the biggest offender given a sentence of nine years.
The former commissioner of police has served as secretary of security since last year and he will stay on his current post as security chief for the new Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, which will assume office on Friday.
Apollonia Liu Lee Ho-kei, deputy secretary for security, said there has been a sharp drop in violence and a decline in external interference and incidents advocating separatism.
The year-on-year number of arson cases decreased by 67 percent and criminal damage dropped by 28 percent, she said.
Tang said the National Security Law for Hong Kong and the improvement to the electoral system helped the city realize a transformation from chaos to stability. However, he said security risks still exist due to international geopolitical reasons.
One major risk is local terrorism, such as "lone wolf" attacks and making and dropping explosives at parks and on public transportation, he said.
Foreign forces and their local agents still want to undermine the stability of Hong Kong and the nation through various means, and the authorities must stay on high alert, he added.
"To deal with such risks, intelligence gathering is the key and we must also be very strict in law enforcement," he said. "If there is any evidence suggesting violations of the National Security Law for Hong Kong or other laws endangering national security, we need to take action."
Tang said Hong Kong should enact Article 23 of the Basic Law to outlaw more categories of serious national security crimes, such as treason, sedition, and theft of State secrets, which are not addressed under the National Security Law for Hong Kong.
"Although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected legislative work, we will make the greatest efforts to push for the enactment of the Article 23 of the Basic Law as soon as possible to deal with existing and future national security risks in Hong Kong," he said.
The Security Bureau has also promoted national security education among young people, particularly on the annual National Security Education Day on April 15, he said.
At schools, the bureaus placed extra emphasis on curriculum guides and putting in the elements of national security in student development and learning as well as teacher training, Tang said.
For young people who have committed offenses, correction institutions have special programs to teach them Chinese history, build healthy relationships with their family, and form a sense of pride in being Chinese, he added.
Tang said the principle of "one country, two systems" is the best arrangement for Hong Kong and assures the city's long-term prosperity.
"The robustness of the 'one country, two systems' principle can only be assured by adhering to 'one country' and any attempt to disregard the 'one country' is going to fail," he added.