Mainland offers pan-democrats ‘green card’

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/1 0:03:39

Move meant to unite activists against ‘Hong Kong independence’

China's central government is expected to offer all Hong Kong pan-democratic politicians permanent permits or home-return permits, to draw them away from the idea of "Hong Kong independence."

"The central government will announce as early as Wednesday that all pan-democrats who failed to renew their home-return permits, including former and incumbent lawmakers, will be granted permanent permits," the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday.

A home-return permit is required by Hong Kong people to enter the mainland and will only be issued for Hong Kong permanent identity card holders.

Tian Feilong, a legal expert and associate professor at Beihang University, told the Global Times that this move is a response to pan-democrats' request in May, when the chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, Zhang Dejiang, met four pan-democrats in Hong Kong.

One of the four, Democratic Party chairperson Lau Wai-hing, the head of a major pro-democracy party in Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo), told Zhang that they hope pan-democrats can get home-return permits. Zhang said "the problem will be solved eventually."

Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, a pro-democracy activist, said he has a home-return permit and would continue to communicate with the mainland people who have similar positions and ideas with us, the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao reported on Wednesday.

However, not every pro-democrat is happy with this move. Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a 23-year-old pro-democracy LegCo member, said he will not apply for a home-return permit because going to the mainland is dangerous.

"They have the right to refuse, but our [the mainland's] attitude should remain open to them," Zhang Dinghuai, a professor at the Shenzhen University College of Management, told the Global Times.

"There is no need to worry about the pan-democrats politicians' political activities and allow them to enter the mainland because they are Chinese citizens and have the right to enter the mainland," Zhang Dinghuai said.

"If they break the law in the mainland, the police can arrest them, but we should not deny them a home-return permit," he noted.

"We are confident in communicating with the pan-democrats since they will also be influenced by us. I believe these Hong Kong people will understand our concept of democracy and acknowledge our political system through dialogue," Tian said.

"The mainland can therefore unite reasonable pro-democracy politicians against 'Hong Kong-independence' extremists, because under the 'one country, two systems' policy, constructive communication on democracy is welcome," Tian said, adding that there is no room for separatists.

Christopher Patten, Hong Kong's last UK governor and a foreign pro-democracy camp supporter, warned Hong Kong students that "Hong Kong is not a nation state," suggesting that the students should not deceive themselves, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

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