The Chinese national flags and flags of the Hong Kong SAR flutter in Hong Kong. [Photo/Xinhua]

January 6, 2021, is yet another memorable day in the history of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region because 53 individuals, including Benny Tai Yiu-ting, involved in planning, organizing and carrying out such illegal acts last year as “35-plus”, “Ten steps to mutual destruction” and “paralyze the SAR government”, were arrested en masse by Hong Kong police according to the National Security Law and other relevant Hong Kong laws. It is no doubt a decisive step taken by the Hong Kong law enforcement authorities to protect social stability and Hong Kong people’s well-being as well as ensuring that the implementation of “one country, two systems” proceeds on the right track.

The 53 persons are leading figures of radical groups known collectively as the “burn together faction” and all played prominent roles in the illegal “primary election” last July. The so-called “primary” was conceptualized in March last year, planned in April, crowdfunded and publicized in June and held in early July. In a nutshell, it was a carefully planned, organized and executed subversive act in violation of the National Security Law promulgated on June 30, 2020. There is undeniable evidence supporting subversion charges against them.

For starters, Hong Kong law does not mention “primary election” in any shape or form, meaning the one held last July by the opposition camp was absolutely devoid of legal basis and might have involved money laundering, illegitimate candidacy and Election Ordinance violations. Moreover, it was openly billed by its organizers as aiming for winning “35+” majority seats in the now-postponed 2020 Legislative Council (LegCo) Election with the sole purpose of blocking government budgets and bills and paralyzing the HKSAR government. Apparently it ticks all the boxes in crime of “conspiracy to subvert state power” listed in Article 22 of the National Security Law in effect in Hong Kong.

Let no one forget that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress started drafting the National Security Law for implementation in the HKSAR in May last year and announced its promulgation on June 30, effective immediately. Although the opposition “primary” was conceived and planned before the promulgation of the National Security Law, which is not retro-applicable, it was held after the National Security Law took effect. That means the organizers knew very well the “primary”, which is the first step of their “Ten steps to mutual destruction” scheme, would violate the National Security Law and relevant Hong Kong laws but went ahead anyway. The “primary” violated not only the National Security Law but also the “one country, two systems” principle. By doing it, the opposition camp and the “burn together faction” in particular practically turned themselves in as criminal suspects.

As a matter of fact, the “burn together faction” had plenty of time to call off the “primary” but didn’t, despite repeated warnings by the SAR government that such an act could seriously violate the Election Ordinance as well as the National Security Law. As it was meant to happen, the “burn together faction” was so sure of support by external forces it completely ignored the rule of law at its own peril.

After the police made the arrests on Wednesday the “burn together faction” and its overseas supporters lost no time accusing the authorities of “political prosecution” and “summary score settling”, insisting the Basic Law gives them the right to veto the government’s Budget Plan when appropriate. That argument, however, is nothing but an attempt to move the goal, since the 2020-21 Budget Plan was yet to be presented when the “burn together faction” vowed to block it. Besides, they would also veto all government funding bills once they became the LegCo majority in order to paralyze the SAR government, a necessary step toward subverting state power. Widely known as the chief architect of multiple instances of electoral manipulations so far, Benny Tai, the key plotter of the scheme, published a detailed plan in Apple Daily last April under the headline “Ten steps toward mutual destruction: Hong Kong’s destiny”. That article qualifies as an official declaration of the “burn together faction” on its grand scheme of subversion, including the “primary” and LegCo majority it aimed to seize. Clearly the “primary” was a follow-up to the “black revolution” criminal campaign of 2019 according to the “Ten steps to mutual destruction” plan.

“Black revolution” was no doubt a copy of previous “color revolutions” that wreaked havoc in some Middle Eastern, northern African and Eastern European countries in the post-Cold War era. Its goal was to facilitate local radicals’ attempt to seize the overall jurisdiction over the HKSAR from the central government in Beijing, and establish an independent political entity called “New Hong Kong”. The political maChinations by the radicals including the “black revolution” and the “Ten steps to mutual destruction” plot aimed at paralyzing the HKSAR government have received generous support from their foreign patrons, who sought political upheaval and social unrest in Hong Kong to facilitate their geopolitical agenda against Beijing.

Benny Tai’s “Ten steps to mutual destruction” plan is a bona fide road map for the “burn together faction” to achieve their subversive objectives and therefore a piece of undeniable evidence to their violation of the National Security Law and other relevant Hong Kong laws. No matter what they are trying to do to avoid criminal liability, be it making excuses, shifting blame, sowing discord in Hong Kong society or stirring public fear, it will fail for sure. Any smokescreen launched by Tai and his cohorts won’t hide their true criminal intent to harm national security while sacrificing Hong Kong society.

The National Security Law has paved the way for Hong Kong to end social unrest and restore law and order, beginning with bringing those who committed subversion to justice. It’s time to make them pay for challenging the rule of law in Hong Kong. The actions taken by law-enforcement authorities against the subversives are completely necessary to maintain the constitutional order in Hong Kong and ensure the faithful implementation of “one country, two systems”.

The author is a current affairs commentator.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.