Implementing patriots governing HK principle ‘a must’ for one country, two systems: Vice Premier
Published: Mar 06, 2021 03:18 PM Updated: Mar 06, 2021 05:16 PM
File Photo

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Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng met members from the Hong Kong delegation to the 13th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Saturday morning, people familiar with the matter told the Global Times on Saturday, the day after a draft decision to overhaul the Hong Kong electoral system with the aim of fixing existing loopholes was unveiled on Friday at the opening of the 4th annual session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC). 

Han is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and head of the central leading group of work on Hong Kong and Macao.

To ensure the sustainable development of the “one country, two systems,” full-scale implementation of the principle of patriots governing Hong Kong is a must, the senior Chinese official said during a two-hour meeting with the CPPCC members from the Hong Kong delegation. 

Han mentioned the three principles to follow in improving Hong Kong’s electoral system, including following the fundamentals of the “one country, two systems,”“ the people of Hong Kong administering Hong Kong” and “Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of autonomy.” 

Han said he hoped that after the improvement of Hong Kong’s electoral reform, the region can enjoy a stable political environment, which would pave way for solving problems regarding local people’s livelihoods – especially the gap of wealth between rich and poor and housing problems.

Henry Tang Ying-yen, a CPPCC Standing Committee Member, said in a document sent to the Global Times that the meeting lasted about two hours and the Chinese Vice Premier spoke for about one hour, without mentioning any details of the electoral reforms but talked about expanding the Election Committee and LegCo. He also noted that the reforms are not designed to exclude any specific political group or political figure but only to ensure the implementation of the principle of patriots governing Hong Kong.

The principle of only patriots governing Hong Kong is indisputable as it is widely admitted that people who administer the city should be patriots, Tang was quoted as saying in the document. Improving the Hong Kong electoral system is not designed to kick someone out nor targets pro-democracy groups. 

Pan-democratic groups would not disappear overnight as many of them don’t genuinely want to destroy Hong Kong. Instead, they want to make it a more energetic city, he said, noting that the system of representative democracy can tolerate various voices and all the voices should share one goal and these people should love the country and love the HKSAR in addition to making active contributions to the city. 

The draft decision unveiled on Friday laid out targets, major procedures and principles for the imminent reforms to effectively implement the political principle of only patriots governing Hong Kong. 

The goals of the reform: to clear existing loopholes and deficiencies - the anti-China, destabilizing elements trying to snatch the power to administer the HKSAR, as seen in the riots and turbulence that occurred in Hong Kong over recent years.

It also outlined major steps to follow in amending the Basic Law-related legislature by performing the constitutional right under the "one country, two systems" baseline, redefining the constitutional order of Hong Kong as one of China's special administrative regions (SAR), and hinting on future measures including a scope of expanded public participation and whole-process scrutiny of candidacy in local elections.

Tang said he believed that Hong Kong is a diverse society and that pan-democratic groups can still take part in future elections while the city can remain colorful and energetic after the electoral reforms, with objective standards to review whether those groups are indeed patriots. 

Whether people who shouted to end the “one-party system” fit the categories of being “patriots”, Tang said that he did not know the standards, but as China is ruled by the CPC, anyone who considers themselves as patriots but ask the CPC to step down would be self-contradictory. 

Han was also expected to meet with deputies from the Hong Kong delegation to the 13th National People's Congress on Sunday morning, Tam Yiu-chung, member of the NPC Standing Committee, told the Global Times on Saturday.

Vice Premier Han's speech is of great vision, focusing not only on solving immediate problems, but also on making long-term plans. In particular, he showed great concern for Hong Kong. We felt that the central government attaches great importance to Hong Kong and that its decision on Hong Kong is based on upholding the “one country, two systems” principle and improving the livelihood of the people in Hong Kong, Kingsley Wong Kwok, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and a CPPCC member who attended Han’s meeting on Saturday morning, told the Global Times. 

“This enhanced our confidence in Hong Kong's future development,” Wong said.

He also said the senior Chinese official pays close attention to Hong Kong on a daily base, caring about the city very much. And the draft decision to improve electoral reform came out after comprehensive consultation and research. Besides the reforms, Han also hoped that Hong Kong will give top priority to fighting the epidemic at the moment and strive to achieve the goal of zero new COVID-19 cases, Wong said. 

“The next step is to address economic and livelihood issues including income distribution and housing, which are key concerns of Hong Kong people,” he said. 

Also, when the mainland and Hong Kong can resume travel channels was also a matter of concern among CPPCC members. In response to the question, Han said Hong Kong needs to contain the epidemic first before the travel channel resumes, Tang said. 

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