Australia raises concern about HK's subversion law - Protestors
demonstrating against Hong Kong's proposed anti-subversion legislation hold
placards near Circular Quay in Sydney on December 19.
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia urged Hong Kong to continue to assure basic
freedoms on Thursday, as the former British colony considered a proposed
The proposed legislation, Article 23, is a provision in Hong Kong's
constitution that requires the government to enact a law against treason,
sedition, secession from and subversion against the Chinese mainland
But human rights and legal groups, who fear the measure is being adopted at
Beijing's behest, say it could be used against anyone who criticises China.
A spokeswoman from Australia's foreign office said Canberra had raised its
concerns with Hong Kong officials, pressing for a full and open consultation
period on the proposed law.
"We look to the Hong Kong government to ensure the basic freedoms that are
so important to Hong Kong's ongoing success as an international business
centre with an attractive way of life," a spokeswoman from the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade told Reuters.
As criticism of the proposed law mounts, up to 70 supporters of the
spiritual movement Falun Gong staged a street protest in Sydney on Thursday,
saying the measure could seriously undermine the "basic civil liberties that
Hong Kong has traditionally enjoyed".
While Falun Gong is banned in China, the movement can operate freely in Hong
Kong, which guarantees freedom of religion.
"The Hong Kong government could basically use this law to arrest anyone in
Hong Kong who is doing something that Beijing doesn't like," Falun Gong
spokesman Tony Dai told Reuters.
"They could arrest Falun Gong practitioners at any time."
Posting date: 20/Dec/2002
Original article date: 19/Dec/2002
Category: Media Reports