Tam Yiu-chung (L), one of the organizers of the United Front Supporting National Security Legislation, hands in the petition in support of the national security legislation for Hong Kong to Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, in south China's Hong Kong, June 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

"We saw Hong Kong residents, many of them young people, enthusiastically participate in the petition," said Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the NPC Standing Committee.

The legislation will prevent, stop and punish acts and activities endangering national security, maintain Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability, and better protect the legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong residents, said Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR.

HONG KONG, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 2.93 million Hong Kong residents have signed a petition in support of the national security legislation for Hong Kong during an eight-day campaign.

Organizers handed in the petition to Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Monday afternoon.

The large number of those signing the petition has fully demonstrated that the national security legislation is an essential move that meets the aspirations of Hong Kong residents, Luo said as he received the petition.

China's National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, on May 28 overwhelmingly adopted a decision to institute Hong Kong national security laws. The decision will also allow the central government's national security organs to set up agencies in Hong Kong when needed.

Luo said he had noticed some sensational rumors online saying that Hong Kong residents would lose their freedom of speech, press and assembly and be arrested for traveling abroad and dining with foreigners when the legislation is being enforced.

"By confounding the legal rights of the vast majority of residents with few crimes endangering national security, such rumors are aimed at causing fear and inciting hatred," he said, urging residents to see through those tricks and oppose such political conspiracies.

Organizers of United Front Supporting National Security Legislation and guests attend a press conference in south China's Hong Kong, June 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)

Luo said the legislation will prevent, stop and punish acts and activities endangering national security, maintain Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability, and better protect the legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong residents.

He also stressed that the threat of sanctions by the United States "underscores the urgency of opposing external interference with the national security legislation."

The U.S. threat of sanctions proves that "they do not care about the future of Hong Kong at all, but regard Hong Kong as a pawn to contain the development of China," he added.

"We will fight back with strong counter-measures," he said with regards to all external interference.

"Hong Kong's achievements today are the result of its own hard work and the support of the motherland, not a gift from any foreign country," he said, stressing that under the protection of the national security legislation, Hong Kong will surely overcome difficulties and usher in a new era.

The petition campaign, launched on May 24 in Hong Kong, was organized by a newly established organization named United Front Supporting National Security Legislation.

According to the organizers, 2,074 people from all walks of life in Hong Kong society have joined the organization as co-sponsors, with 1,023 groups from various sectors becoming supportive groups.

Tam Yiu-chung, one of the organizers of the United Front Supporting National Security Legislation and a member of China's National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, speaks at a press conference in south China's Hong Kong, June 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)

"Through the petition, we hope to express the Hong Kong residents' full support for the correct decision on establishing and improving at the state level the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security," one of the initiators of the campaign, Tam Yiu-chung, said at a press conference on Monday.

"We saw Hong Kong residents, many of them young people, enthusiastically participate in the petition," said Tam, a member of the NPC Standing Committee.

Major officials of the HKSAR government have also joined the campaign.

Chief Executive of the HKSAR Carrie Lam visited one of the street stands and signed the petition on Thursday.

"Safeguarding national security is the responsibility of everyone and bears on our daily life," Lam said, expressing hope that the national security legislation will help Hong Kong restore stability and then revitalize the economy.

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam visits a street stand and signs a petition in support of the national security legislation in Hong Kong, south China, May 28, 2020. (Xinhua)

Hong Kong, with a population of over 7.5 million, has suffered from violent protests and social unrest since last June. Hong Kong's GDP in 2019 posted the first negative growth in 10 years and its credit rating was downgraded by a global rating agency.

Starry Lee, a member of the HKSAR Legislative Council, said that over the past year Hong Kong has seen a large amount of illegal activities that undermined "one country, two systems" and challenged national sovereignty, which necessitates national security legislation.

During the petition campaign, organizers set up more than 5,400 street stands across Hong Kong to collect public signatures and 25,000 people volunteered to work at these stands.

A resident signs in a street campaign in support of the national security legislation for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Hong Kong, south China, May 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaochu)

Nearly 1.84 million signatures have been collected at the street stands and another 1.09 million people have signed the petition online.

"It has become a consensus in Hong Kong that the national security legislation should be enacted as soon as possible, so as to lay a solid foundation for Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability," head of Kowloon Federation of Associations Connie Wong, one of the co-sponsors of the organization, said. ■

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