The head of Hong Kong’s Law Society has pledged to convey doubts about the implementation of the city’s national security legislation, including the denial of bail to some defendants, during the group’s planned meetings with mainland Chinese officials next week in Beijing.
Society president Chan Chak-ming said members of the body’s governing council had scheduled visits to more than 10 government departments and institutions on the mainland to exchange views on the rule of law in Hong Kong. The discussions would include voicing his fellow members’ concerns over the Beijing-imposed national security law, he said.
“The international community has cast doubt on the implementation of the national security law, with some of our members disagreeing with it,” Chan said at a press conference on Friday, two days before the trip.
“This is normal, as it is undeniably a controversial law. I will reflect their views faithfully.”
The planned visit by the group representing 13,000 solicitors in the city is the first after the implementation of the national security law in 2020, as trips had been suspended during the pandemic.
Chan added that other concerns the group planned to relay to mainland officials included the denial of bail to certain defendants and long waits often faced by some while awaiting trial, which he described as “unsatisfactory”.
“The actual operation might not involve the central government, as this is something within our jurisdiction under the ‘two systems’. But I will still reflect the different views to relevant departments,” he said.
He referred to dozens of opposition politicians and activists who faced at least two years’ detention after being accused of offences under the security law relating to an unofficial primary held in July 2020. They were arrested in January the following year, with a trial now under way.
During the society’s stay in the capital from next Monday to Friday, representatives will meet with the restructured Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office which is now under the direct scrutiny of the Chinese Communist Party, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce.
They will also visit the Supreme People’s Court, the National Development and Reform Commission, the National Lawyers Association, the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, and the law schools of three universities in Beijing.
Following Hong Kong’s lifting of Covid-related travel restrictions earlier in the year, the body resumed visits to Bangkok, Dubai, England and Wales for conferences and meetings with counterparts.
Society vice-president Amirali Nasir said these trips did not only help the sector keep abreast of the latest developments in the global legal arena, but also provided chances to clear up “misunderstanding of Hong Kong’s situation based on incomplete or factually incorrect information”.
He said sectors of the international community had displayed different degrees of readiness “to learn about the real situation in Hong Kong”. This showed it was important for the society to reach out to those people and “provide a fuller and accurate account” of the city, he said.
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu on Friday hosted a session to share takeaways from his recent trip to Beijing attending China’s annual political gathering known as the “two sessions”, with more than 150 officials and Executive Council members in attendance, according to a government press release.
Writing on his Facebook page, he said he told colleagues it was necessary for the government to develop “a sense of urgency and bottom line thinking” in response to a potential economic and financial crisis amid the complicated and ever-changing global situation.