In a bid to ensure the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is administered by patriots, China’s top legislature passed a decision earlier this month on improving Hong Kong’s electoral system.
Such an improvement, as analysts say, helps plug the loopholes and cure the defects of the existing electoral system, paving the way for Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability as well as the implementation of “one country, two systems.”
As a move to safeguard steady development and people’s interests, expelling insurgents and separatists from the government to ensure the country or the city being administered only by people who love it is a common practice for almost all countries around the world.
Patriotism is what any country would expect of its public servants. The Western countries are no exception, even though some of them have been hurling accusations against China for implementing the “patriots administering Hong Kong” principle.
Here are some facts about how those China-bashing countries apply the same “patriots-administering” principle as an effort to safeguard the national security of their own.
The United States
◆ Patriotism is a criterion for all public officials in the United States, which explicitly prohibits people from holding public office if they have violated their duty of loyalty. The law of the United States clearly defines the basic obligation of public service, and the first of its general principles is to pledge loyalty to the U.S. Constitution and laws.
◆ According to the “negative list” of the U.S. law, anyone shall not be allowed to serve in the U.S. government if he/she advocates the overthrow of the constitutional form of government, or participates in a strike against the U.S. government, or participates in an organization that engages in such activities. Employees in the U.S. government are required by law to execute an affidavit confirming that they do not have any of the above conditions. Those who make false statements will be subject to criminal penalties. The U.S. Constitution and criminal law also clearly stipulate that people who commit crimes such as rioting and treason shall be incapable of holding any office in the United States.
◆ Both the House and the Senate of the U.S. Congress have independent ethics committees, which are responsible for monitoring and investigating whether members of Congress have committed acts of disloyalty to the United States. In U.S. history, 18 members of Congress have been expelled for disloyalty to the country.
◆ Under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, members of the U.S. Congress and all executive and judicial officers of the government and states shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support the Constitution. The U.S. law further specifies that all persons holding public office must take an oath. Taking an oath without solemnity could not only be deemed as refusing to take the oath, but also cause serious consequences.
◆ The United States has a large number of electoral legislations. In the past two years, members of Congress have introduced more than 40 bills to improve the electoral system. On the same day when China’s top legislature announced its agenda for improving Hong Kong’s electoral system in Beijing time, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a “For the People Act” to improve the electoral system and ensure election security.
◆ The U.S. federal government is in charge of the improvements of the country’s electoral system. With specific election rules, it ensures that only the “patriots” could be elected. In terms of eligibility, people who violate their duties of loyalty are explicitly prohibited from running for office, or they shall be subject to criminal penalties. Its electoral system also limits foreign influence on candidates during the election process. For example, the Federal Election Campaign Act explicitly prohibits foreign nationals from providing financial support to any political election in any form, and the Foreign Agent Registration Act stipulates that foreign agents must identify themselves when communicating with candidates.
◆ Apart from the official election rules, the election culture based on patriotism is also the “game rules” which the candidates must abide by. In order to win the support of voters, the candidates on different sides must go to all lengths to display their patriotism in the campaign, as the public typically hold high expectations and strict requirements for a candidate’s patriotism.
◆ Britain sets out clear requirements for the loyalty of public servants to the country. To crack down on crimes such as secession, subversion, collusion with external forces, and disclosure of national secrets, ensure people’s loyalty to the country and safeguard national security, Britain enacted a set of acts including the Treason Act 1351, the Treason Felony Act 1848, and the Official Secrets Act 1989. These acts apply equally to public servants. Additional penalties will be imposed if they commit crimes against national security. If a civil servant is convicted of treason, he/she will automatically forfeit his/her pension entitlements, in addition to the usual disciplinary penalties.
◆ The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament stipulates that “members have a duty to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, her heirs and successors” and “members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole.” The Civil Service management code also states that “civil servants are servants of the Crown and owe a duty of loyal service to the Crown as their employer.”
◆ Britain’s oath system comprises a set of acts, which covers a wide range of people. Several acts including the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866, the Promissory Oaths Act 1868, and the Oaths Act 1978 stipulate requirements for public servants to take oaths, including the oath of allegiance, official oath and judicial oath. Local government officials are also required to take an oath. For example, the Scotland Act 1998 provides that members of the Scottish Parliament, ministers and junior ministers are required to take the oath of allegiance and the official oath in accordance with the Promissory Oaths Act 1868. For judges, taking a judicial oath is required.
◆ Britain requires that the oath shall be solemnly and publicly made. If any officer specified in the schedule hereto declines or neglects, when any oath required to be taken by him/her under the Act is duly tendered, to take such oath, he/she shall, if he/she has already entered on his/her office, vacate the same, and if he/she has not entered on the same, be disqualified from entering on the same.
◆ In Britain, the central government plays a leading role in local elections in a bid to maintain national electoral security and constitutional order. As a unitary country, the electoral system of each region is decided by the central government of Britain. At present, Britain has enacted more than 200 acts, orders, and rules relating to the election of members of Parliament, mayors, police and crime commissioners in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For example, with the highest-degree of autonomy, Scotland’s electoral system was set by the Scotland Act passed by the British Parliament in 1998 and amended in 2012.
◆ Britain strictly restricts foreign donations to its political parties. It prescribes that political parties may accept donations above 500 pounds (691 U.S. dollars) only from “permissible donors,” which don’t include foreign individuals and institutions.
◆ Germany’s Basic Law and Federal Civil Service Act stipulate that civil servants exercising the power relating to national sovereign affairs shall stand in a relationship of service and loyalty defined by public law. If civil servants engage in activities that violate the basic order of freedom and democracy as defined by the Constitution, or participate in activities that threaten the existence or security of the Federal Republic of Germany, they shall be deemed to have failed in their duties.
◆ According to Article 64 of the Federal Civil Service Act, civil servants must take an oath to protect the Basic Law (German Constitution) and all the laws applicable in Germany and faithfully fulfill their duties.
◆ German civil servants’ special duty of loyalty to the country and its Constitution has been confirmed and clarified by the Federal Constitutional Court in a judicial precedent in 1975. In practice, German civil servants are not only required to faithfully maintain the constitutional order to which they have sworn allegiance and not to participate in any activities that undermine the constitutional order, but also required to perform a higher degree of loyalty obligations, such as not participating in strikes or non-cooperative movements that weaken the efficiency of government operations, otherwise they will be regarded as violating service obligations and being disloyal to the government.
◆ Article 21 of Germany’s Basic Law stipulates that parties that, by reason of their aims or the behavior of their adherents, seek to undermine or abolish the free democratic basic order or to endanger the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany shall be unconstitutional.
◆ Germany has set up a monitoring system to avoid, supervise and punish violations of loyalty obligations by its civil servants. Germany has adopted a series of laws and regulations, such as the Basic Law, the Federal Civil Service Act, the Federal Disciplinary Act and the Rules on Integrity, to supervise its civil servants’ performance of their duties.
◆ The Constitution of France emphasizes that France shall be an indivisible Republic, and no section of the people nor any individual may arrogate to itself, or to himself/herself, the exercise of national sovereignty.
◆ Section IV of the French Criminal Code lists various crimes against the nation, the country and peace and corresponding penalties, including offences against the institutions of the Republic or the integrity of the national territory, crimes against public peace, treason and espionage, etc.
◆ The Constitution of France stipulates that political parties and groups shall contribute to the exercise of suffrage, they shall be formed and carry on their activities freely, and they shall respect the principles of national sovereignty and democracy.
◆ France has set up a special election supervisory organ to perform the monitoring function. At the central level, there is a national supervisory committee set up by the Ministry of the Interior, which is responsible for supervising the national election process and the observance of the basic election principles in the election campaign.
◆ The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector issued by the Canadian government in 2003 places a duty of loyalty on public servants and restricts them from publicly criticizing the Canadian government. Any violation may lead to dismissal.
◆ The Constitution Act, 1867 stipulates that every Member of the Senate or House of Commons of Canada shall before taking his/her Seat therein take and subscribe before the Governor General or some Person authorized by him/her, and every Member of a Legislative Council or Legislative Assembly of any Province shall before taking his/her Seat therein take and subscribe before the Lieutenant Governor of the Province or some Person authorized by him/her.
◆ The Constitution Act, 1867 provides that a senator will be disqualified if he/she takes an Oath or makes a Declaration or Acknowledgment of Allegiance, Obedience, or Adherence to a Foreign Power, or does an Act whereby he/she becomes a Subject or Citizen, or entitled to the Rights or Privileges of a Subject or Citizen, of a Foreign Power, or if he/she is attainted of Treason or convicted of Felony or of any infamous Crime.
◆ The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act stipulates that any person who:(I) is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; or (II) is attainted of treason, or has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer, shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.
◆ The Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act stipulates that every senator and every member of the House of Representatives shall before taking his seat make and subscribe before the Governor-General, or some person authorized by him/her, an oath or affirmation of allegiance in the form set forth in the schedule to this Constitution.
◆ The Public Service Act 1999 stipulates that an Australian Public Service employee on duty overseas must at all times behave in a way that upholds the good reputation of Australia. Any violations may result in termination of employment, reduction in salary, deductions from salary by way of fine, or re-assignment of duties.
◆ The Guidance for Australia Public Service Employees and Agencies: Personal Behavior on Social Media issued by the Australian government in 2017 regulates civil servants’ behavior on the Internet and restricts them from criticizing the government online.
///Embassy of China in Ashgabat – material produced by Xinhua