Top official on HK affairs lays out fundamental standards for imminent electoral reforms in the city
Published: Feb 22, 2021 03:55 PM

Xia Baolong, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, makes a speech at the opening of a symposium on improving the institutional framework of "one country, two systems" and implementing the fundamental principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong" in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 22, 2021. (Xinhua/Gao Jie)

 China's top official on Hong Kong affairs urged Hong Kong to fully implement the political baseline of "patriots governing Hong Kong" by improving the electoral system to plug its loopholes to ensure that those who govern the city meet the relevant basic standards, including fully safeguarding sovereignty and national interests and never jeopardizing the socialist system led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). 

In a speech delivered at an online panel held by the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies on Monday morning, in which experts and officials from Beijing, Hong Kong and Macao gathered, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said the power of administration of Hong Kong should always be held by patriots, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping's comments made when Carrie Lam, chief executive of the HKSAR government, delivered her work report on January 27 via video link. 

When hearing the work report from Lam, the Chinese top leader said Hong Kong's transition from chaos to stability has once again demonstrated that the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong" must be always upheld to ensure the steady and sustained implementation of "one country, two systems."  

Insisting on "patriots governing Hong Kong" is not the highest standard but the lowest standard for the HKSAR to continue the principle of "the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong," Xia said, noting that civil servants from nearly all countries and regions need to demonstrate their patriotism. 

But it is only in Hong Kong that some people have used rebelling against their own country as "political capital" and even used "opposition to the country, to the central government and demonizing their own nation" as campaign slogans, fully putting on a deformed political performance, Xia added. 

Hong Kong experienced severe political turmoil in 2019 when anti-government rioters used scorched earth strategies to paralyze the city in pursuit of their political goals. Some secessionists and extreme anti-government forces spread secessionist ideas, opposing the governance of the central government, instigating dissatisfaction toward the mainland and recklessly interfering in the governance by the HKSAR government, causing the whole of society to pay a heavy price. 

Xia attributed the earlier chaos in the city to the lack of full-scale implementation of the "patriots governing Hong Kong" principle, which has also become a major urgent task, for which the Chinese official also laid out a series of basic standards. 

On the question of how to distinguish who are the true patriots, Xia put forward three ideas including the idea that patriots truly safeguard their country's sovereignty, security and development interests. "Not engaging in any activities endangering the country's sovereignty is the most basic standard for patriots," he said, noting that those who attack the central government in a hysterical manner, openly advocate "Hong Kong independence" and beg for foreign sanctions against the city are certainly not patriots. 

Those who violate the national security law for Hong Kong are also excluded. 

The second idea is that patriots love the country, more specifically, the People's Republic of China, and respect and safeguard the country's fundamental system and the constitutional order of the HKSAR. "The CPC led the people to found the People's Republic of China, and in a country that practices socialism, there can be different political views, but there's a red line, that is we will never tolerate any acts that hurt the fundamental system of the country, namely, the socialism led by the CPC," Xia said.

As "one country, two systems" is also an important part of socialism with Chinese characteristics, led by the CPC, the Party is also the founder and leader of the unique system for Hong Kong, so "how could someone who upholds 'one country, two systems' be against the founder and leader of the system?" Xia asked. 

Also, patriots must be those who strive to safeguard the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong is a diversified society, and the need for the "patriots governing Hong Kong" principle does not lead to a uniform political landscape. Some Hong Kong residents have lived in a capitalist-led society with little understanding of the mainland and the country, so the central government understands and tolerates their political views, firmly believing that they will carry out the principle of loving the country and Hong Kong and distinguish themselves from anti-government rioters, Xia said.

The official also set out some fundamentals for carrying out relevant reforms to meet the principle, including improving the electoral system under the Constitution and the Basic Law, respecting the central government's overall jurisdiction  and considering the current situation in Hong Kong by avoiding simply copying foreign electoral systems. Meanwhile, the chief executive should always be the core of the "executive-led" governance  system and improving the relations between the executive and legislative bodies should be put into greater consideration. 

Global Times