The vice-president of China’s Supreme People’s Court has reiterated that Hong Kong’s new national security law will only give people more freedom, but after a one-and-a-half-hour online forum on the mainland's justice system, many key questions in relation to suspects’ rights and the role of mainland courts remained unanswered.
At the event, organised by the pro-government think tank Our Hong Kong Foundation, Jiang Wei spoke at length about the mainland judicial system’s reform and innovation, which he said had made justice more accessible to the people.
He said that on the mainland, law-enforcement agencies are strictly prohibited from extorting confessions by force, and court proceedings are being streamed online so that not only stakeholders, but the wider community, can scrutinise the process.
Several video clips were played during his speech to explain the modernisation of the judicial system.
His speech was followed by a question and answer session, where reporters typed in their questions to be read out by the host.
Several local media sent in questions about the newly enacted national security law.
One asked Jiang whether lawyers practising in Hong Kong would be allowed to defend suspects brought across the border and tried on the mainland.
Another asked what preparations the top mainland court is making to handle possible national security cases from Hong Kong in future, whether common law principles will be considered by mainland courts, and whether mainland judges familiar only with the civil law system will need to receive further training.
A reporter also asked whether China has any follow-up plans now that countries including the UK and the US have cancelled their extradition arrangements with Hong Kong.
The host did not pick any of these questions, but did ask Jiang to explain the merits of the national security law, as well as how mainland laws manifested the principle of being “people-oriented”.