A senior Beijing official has said the country’s top legislative body will soon interpret Hong Kong’s national security law, putting an end to weeks of speculation about how the central government may handle the matter.
According to state news agency Xinhua, the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee on Tuesday listened to an explanation by Xia Baolong, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, over a motion on the city’s request for an interpretation of “relevant articles” of the law.
No further details on how the legislation will be interpreted were made public.
The Department of Justice repeatedly asked the courts to deny the arrangement, on a range of grounds including the risk that a foreign national could learn state secrets during the trial, but the top court ruled Lai was entitled to his choice of counsel.
Lee later requested the standing committee for an interpretation of the law following the ruling, with his decision being supported by Beijing’s offices overseeing the city’s affairs, which said the court’s decision had violated “the legislative spirit and legal logic” of the security legislation.
The law, written by Beijing and imposed on Hong Kong in 2020, targets crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The drafters gave the standing committee the right to interpret the law, although that power has not yet been exercised.
Legal heavyweights such as Priscilla Leung Mei-fun earlier suggested there was no need for the central government to interpret the law, instead local authorities could rely on other mechanisms within the legislation to handle the matter.