Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China - Proposals to implement Article 23 of the BASIC LAW
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Moderate and Liberal Proposals
in comparison with corresponding provisions
in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia

National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill -
A Comparison with corresponding offences
in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia*

The proposals as set out in the National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill (the Bill), as compared with all other major common law jurisdictions, are moderate and liberal. Take the proposed offence of treason as an example, the Bill restricts the offence to apply only to Chinese nationals (treason could be committed by non-nationals under other common law jurisdictions). "War" is also limited to mean only declared war or open conflicts between armed forces. The Bill also proposes the abolition of the common law offence of misprision of treason (or the failure to report an act of treason), which is in the statute books of other common law jurisdictions.

Existing legislation Bill Corresponding offences in other jurisdictions
HKSAR UK USA Canada Australia
Kill, wound or cause bodily harm to the head of state To be repealed Compass or imagine the death of the King. Kill, attempt to kill, or assault the President. Kill, attempt to kill, or do bodily harm to Her Majesty. Cause the death of the Sovereign or harm to the Sovereign.

Levy war to depose or compel the sovereign or intimidate the legislature

'Levy war' is construed in accordance with common law to include riots or insurrections

A Chinese national joins or be a part of foreign armed forces at war with the PRC with intent to overthrow, intimidate, or compel the CPG to change policies or measures

'War' is limited to declared war or open armed conflicts between armed forces.

Levy war against the sovereign. Levy war against the US. Levy war against Canada or do any act preparatory thereto. Levy war, or do any act preparatory to levying war, against the Commonwealth.
Assist public enemy at war with the PRC

'Public enemy' includes nationals whose country is at war with the PRC.

A Chinese national assisting public enemy at war with the PRC by doing any act with intent to prejudice the position of the PRC in the war

'Public enemy' is limited to foreign government / foreign armed forces at war with the PRC.

Adherent to the King's enemies giving them aid and comfort. Adhere to enemies of the US, giving them aid and comfort within the US or elsewhere. Assist an enemy at war with Canada, or any armed forces against whom Canadian Forces are engaged in hostilities, whether or not a state of war exists. Engage in conduct that assists by any means, with intent to assist, an enemy at war with the Commonwealth, or another country or an organization that is engaged in armed hostilities against Australian Defence Force.
Common law offence of misprision of treason
To be repealed
Know that treason is being planned or committed and fail to report it as soon as he can to a justice of the peace or other authority.
Having knowledge of the commission of any treason, conceal or do not, as soon as may be, disclose and make known the same to the President or to some judge of the US, or to the appropriate authority.
Knowing that a person is about to commit high treason or treason do not, with all reasonable dispatch, inform a justice of peace or other peace officers or make other reasonable efforts to prevent that person from committing high treason or treason.
Receive or assist another person who, to his knowledge, has committed treason with the intention of allowing him to escape punishment or apprehension; or knowing that a person intends to commit treason, do not inform a constable of it within a reasonable time or use reasonable endeavours to prevent the commission of the offence.

* For a more detailed comparison between the provisions of the Bill and the corresponding offences in other major common law jurisdictions, please visit our website at www.basiclaw23.gov.hk .

No cause for worry

Any person intending to overthrow the Central People's Government has not carried out any action no offence of subversion

Any person intending to withdraw a part of the China from its sovereignty starting a hunger strike no offence of secession

A Chinese national intending to compel the Central People's Government to change its policies participates in a peaceful assembly no offence of treason

Any person advocating the secession of the country has not incited his audience to start a war, has not used force or actions akin to terrorism no offence of sedition

Any person discloses information about the HKSAR which is under the responsibility of the Central Authorities but does not cause any damage to national security no offence of unlawful disclosure

A local organisation subordinate to another organisation which has been banned in the Mainland but has not done anything in Hong Kong endangering national security would not be proscribed

Any person being a member or officer of a proscribed organisation but does not know that the organisation has been proscribed no penalty or liability

Security Bureau
July 2003


Last Updated : 5-7-2003