Beijing affirms jurisdiction over HK in white paper

By Cathy Wong Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-11 0:43:01

The Chinese central government reaffirmed its "overall jurisdiction" over Hong Kong in an official document released Tuesday, two weeks before an unofficial "referendum" over suffrage rights in the region promoted by a civil movement.

The State Council Information Office Tuesday published a white paper detailing the "one country, two systems" approach in Hong Kong. It stated the Chinese government's overall power to govern the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

The "one country, two systems" policy, put forward by then leader Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s, has set the tone for China's rule over Hong Kong since it resumed the exercise of sovereignty over the territory in 1997, ensuring the city's high degree of autonomy over local issues.

The white paper, the first of its kind released by the central government, said that "one country, two systems" has come to face new circumstances and new problems, as some in Hong Kong are "confused or lopsided in their understanding of 'one country, two systems' and the Basic Law."

The white paper called for the public to fully and accurately understand the meaning of the "one country, two systems" policy. It reasserts that Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy is not full autonomy, but comes solely from the authorization of the central leadership.

The white paper also said it is a solemn commitment of the central government that ultimately the chief executive will be selected by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broad representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures. Election of all members of the Legislative Council will be by universal suffrage.

The SAR government welcomed the document. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told a press conference Tuesday the white paper has helped Hong Kong and the world with an in-depth understanding of the "one country, two systems" policy. He insisted the statement has no conflict with Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, and believed the release date "has nothing to do with what will happen soon in Hong Kong society."

The SAR finished on May 3 the first phase of a five-month public consultation on electoral reform regarding methods to elect the city's leadership, and has seen spilt public opinions over the issue. Those who describe themselves as pan-democrats advocate full democracy, which will entitle the public the right to nominate candidates for the chief executive, while the pro-establishment camp opposes the initiative, fearing full democracy might hurt Hong Kong's economy.

Occupy Central organizer Benny Tai Yiu-ting said the white paper is deliberately targeting the referendum on June 22 and the July 1 protest. He said the central government is interfering with Hong Kong's high autonomy and has breached the promise of "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong," reported the Ming Pao Daily.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong political analyst Ivan Choy Chi-keung echoed Tai's view, and believes the white paper is intended to stop the Occupy Central movement. He expects the Hong Kong public will not be convinced and the hard-line stance of the white paper might trigger even more people joining the movement. 

Hong Kong's pan-democrats are planning a series of campaigns to fight for their cause, including the June referendum and the Occupy Central protest, which plans to shut down the city's financial district. 

Executive Council member and legislative councilor Starry Lee Wai-king of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong disagreed with both conclusions, telling the Global Times that the drafting of the white paper took one year, so could not be aimed at recent events.

"Hong Kong is a part of China, and it is reasonable for the central government to fully rule over Hong Kong, and this is the original spirit stipulated in the Basic Law," she said.

She said the majority of Hong Kong citizens are against the movement, as it will hurt the local economy and pose a threat to the stability of Hong Kong.

The white paper also said it is necessary to stay alert to the attempt of outside forces to use Hong Kong to interfere in China's domestic affairs, and prevent and repel the attempt made by a very small number of people who act in collusion with outside forces to interfere with the implementation of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong.

Lee believes such worries are valid, considering the US "return to Asia-Pacific" strategy.

US Vice President Joe Biden met two top Hong Kong democracy advocates, Martin Lee and Anson Chan, in the White House in April, which caused speculation over US intentions and drew dissatisfaction from Beijing.

Zhu Shihai, a professor specializing in Hong Kong studies from the Central Institute of Socialism, told the Global Times the US has been a major donor to Hong Kong's pan-democrats, but said that outside influence is limited.

The central government has sent scholars to Hong Kong to deliver its stance in a private capacity, Zhu said, but the white paper is an official and direct declaration by the central government of tightened control over the territory.

Full Text: The Practice of the "One Country, Two Systems" Policy inthe Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Newspaper headline: Document blames some for ‘lopsided’ understanding of Basic Law

Posted in: Politics

blog comments powered by Disqus