Anti-NSL crusade is part of West’s cognitive warfare against China


Anti-NSL crusade is part of West’s cognitive warfare against China

Although some observers may regard the US-led defamation campaign against the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL) as a sideshow to its anti-China propaganda offensive, it is much more than a sideshow. It is an integral part of a program of cognitive warfare to destabilize and weaken China.

Cognitive warfare is a strategy that focuses on altering how a target population thinks, and through that how it acts. It is the weaponization of public opinion by an external entity for the purpose of influencing public and government policy and thereby destabilizing public institutions.

The US-led propaganda war against the NSL cannot be viewed in isolation, divorced from the desire of Washington and its key allies to open another unconventional battlefront in its anti-China crusade. From the very beginning, Washington tried to alter people’s perception of the judicial system of Hong Kong in accordance with its strategic objectives by smearing the NSL.

Shortly after the promulgation of the NSL, the US enacted the Hong Kong Autonomy Act to punish Hong Kong, and imposed sanctions on officials of the central and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region governments. The US’ allies such as the United Kingdom also danced to Washington’s tune in attacking the NSL, while the Western mainstream media have also become anti-NSL cognitive warriors. 

Contrary to Washington and its allies’ groundless allegations, Professor Lim Chin-leng confirms that the liberal way of life in Hong Kong under “one country, two systems” remains a daily reality (Treaty for a Lost City: The Sino-British Joint Declaration, by CL Lim (Cambridge: CUP, 2022)). And we can take comfort in the fact that Article 4 of the NSL states clearly that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security. In contrast, as senior counsel Grenville Cross has pointed out, the UK National Security Act 2023 makes no mention whatsoever of human rights provisions.

Portraying the “black-clad” riots of 2019 as “pro-democracy” demonstrations, Western critics of the NSL pretend to know nothing about the dangerous and chaotic situation in Hong Kong at that critical juncture right before the promulgation of the NSL. There are serious doubts, to say the least, about whether these critics understand the extremely fragile sociopolitical situation triggered by the monthslong insurrection. Fortunately, the NSL has provided a timely curb on the chaos and enabled the livelihood and economic activities of Hong Kong to return to normal. In a nutshell, the promulgation of the NSL was necessary and reasonable.

To further punish Hong Kong, the US’ Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) urged President Joe Biden to impose additional sanctions on Hong Kong officials who were accused of conducting “political prosecution”. They were absolutely wrong because there is no political prosecution in the city. The CECC also views the forthcoming trial of Jimmy Lai Chee-ying as a “political trial”. It urged the Hong Kong authorities to release Lai, a violation of the spirit of the rule of law. 

Because judicial independence remains a deeply entrenched legal principle in Hong Kong, the executive cannot order a discharge. To rectify their cognitive errors, critics should pay more attention to the World Justice Report Rule of Law Index 2022. In Hong Kong, only the judge of the District Court or the Court of First Instance has the power to order conditional discharge of an offender after conviction (s.107 of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance).

Some Western scholars are also biased against the NSL. For example, Jerome Cohen, a legal scholar in the US, claimed that the NSL has effectively suppressed popular protests and democratic practices in the city. And of equal concern is the accusation made by local scholar Johannes Chan Man-mun, who alleged that a sizable proportion of the public is losing confidence in judicial independence.

We cannot deny that some Hong Kong residents who embrace Western liberal democratic values have reservations about the NSL. But their reservations are deliberately exaggerated by Western media, politicians and scholars. The silent majority, who love the motherland and treasure sociopolitical stability in Hong Kong, recognize the need to safeguard national security by promulgating the NSL.

They understand that national security laws in major Western countries also contain necessary and reasonable provisions to curtail some freedoms. Their less-told story has inevitably been put on the back burner. One of the effective ways to guard against cognitive warfare is to strengthen Hong Kong people’s mental immune system to filter ideas. The first step is to make the voices of Hong Kong’s silent majority heard. Another step is to rebut the distorted arguments of the cognitive warriors in open forums. Promoting media literacy education is also important.

Hong Kong people need to be alerted to the danger of an enhanced attack on Hong Kong’s legal system by these cognitive warriors in the next few months. We should pay close attention to two events, namely the trial of Lai in December and the local legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law. These two events will provide hostile forces with a useful lever to renew their cognitive warfare against the legal system of Hong Kong.  

Lei Wun-kong is a lawyer based in Macao and litigation and practice senior consultant of Chinese Dream Think Tank. 

Kacee Ting Wong is a barrister, part-time researcher of Shenzhen University Hong Kong and Macao Basic Law Research Center, and chairman of Chinese Dream Think Tank.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Chinese Dream Think Tank is a non-profit Hong Kong-based organization working with skilled volunteers, experts and professionals who are passionate about telling the China story well.

This article is reproduced by Kwun Media with the consent of China Daily.

中國夢智庫| 西式「認知戰」 

有些人說美國所引領的抹黑《香港國安法》運動是她反華宣傳大攻略舞台上發出的一個小調,但筆者認為這不僅僅是美國反華戰略的一個小插曲。抹黑《香港國安法》運動是西式「認知戰」中的一個重要策略。其目標就是要破壞與削弱中國。「認知戰」是一種外部實體常用的策略,側重於改變目標群體的思維方式與結合目標群體被改變後所產生的行為方式,將公眾輿論武器化。主要目的是: (1) 影響目標群體所在地的公共與政府政策; 與(2) 破壞當地公共機構穩定性(註1)。



上述林林總總的說法是針對中國毫無根據的指控。LIM Chin Leng教授早前正確指出,事實上在「一國兩制」下香港的自由生活方式是常態(註5)。值得大家注意,《香港國安法》第4條明確規定,在維護國家安全同時應尊重與保護人權(註6)。正如資深大律師江樂士所見,《英國國家安全法2023》沒有提及任何保護人權的條款(註7)。


為採取進一步措施懲罰香港特區,美國「國會及行政當局中國委員會」 (CECC)敦促拜登針對香港特區政治案件起訴人員實施額外制裁。這是個錯誤的提案,香港特區沒有政治起訴。CECC還錯誤認為即將開審的「黎智英案」是一場政治審判。早前9月下旬,CECC還敦促香港特區政府釋放被告黎智英。大家注意,「無國界記者」 (Reporters Withour Borders)與「保護記者委員會」(Committee to Protect Journalists)有同樣的政治訴求(註8)。司法獨立是香港特區根深蒂固的法律原則,行政部門不能下令釋放被告。為認知正言,反對批評者應關注《2022年世界正義報告法治指數》(註9)。在香港特區,只有區域法院或原訟法庭的法官才有權在被告定罪後下令有條件將其釋放(註10)。

 新华社照片,香港,2020年6月16日 特稿:斩黑暴、御外扰——国家安全基石护佑“东方之珠”光明未来 暴徒在荃湾与警察对峙(2019年8月25日摄)。 (配本社同题文字稿) 新华社发

在美國備受尊敬的高禮文教授認為,《香港國安法》刑事司法系統的時代性轉型有效地壓制了香港特區所謂的大規模民眾化民主抗議與實踐(註11)。但是,像政治家一樣,一些西方社會學者熱衷於針對《香港國安法》發表誹謗性言論。其中令人擔憂的是學者陳文敏(Johannes Chan)提出近乎幻覺般的指控。他認為,相當一部分人對香港特區司法獨立正失去信心。他的言論是錯誤的。





註 1: Seumas Miller「Cognitive Warfare: An Ethnical Analysis」Ethics and Information Technology (2023), published on 04.09.2023, 25 Article Number:46 of 2023 at p 1 available at:

註 2: 維基百科《香港自治法》available at:香港自治法

註 3: Justine Yu「The United States’ Ineffective Response Towards Hong Kong’s National Security Law」Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 73, Issue 1, 1-2022at pp 163-164

註 4: Keith Roach「Echoes Enhanced to a Cacophony」in Hualing Fu and Michael Hor (eds.)「The National Security Law of Hong Kong: Restoration and Transformation」HKU Press, 2022 at p 306

註 5: C.L. Lim「Treaty for a Lost City: The Sino-British Joint Declaration」Cambridge: CUP, 2022 at p 259

註 6: 《香港國安法》第四條「香港特別行政區維護國家安全應當尊重和保障人權,依法保護香港特別行政區居民根據香港特別行政區基本法和《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》、《經濟、社會與文化權利的國際公約》適用於香港的有關規定享有的包括言論、新聞、出版的自由,結社、集會、遊行、示威的自由在內的權利和自由。」

註 7: Grenville Cross「UK sixth-monthly report on HK: propaganda demeans makers and leads nowhere」China Daily, 26.09.2023「… the UK’s National Security Act 2023, which took effect in July (and has been roundly condemned as draconian by media groups and others), contains no mention whatsoever of human rights protections.」available at:

註 8: Elizabeth Cheung「Hong Kong’s leader accuses ‘anti-China’ forces of threatening national security under cover of media」SCMP 28.09.2023 available at:

註 9: World Justice Report Rule of Law Index 2022 available at:

註 10: 《刑事訴訟程序條例》第107條

註 11: Jerome Cohen「Hong Kong’s transformed criminal justice system: instrument of fear」Academia Sinica Law Journal, 2022 Special Issue at p 2 available at: