Up­hold­ing the prin­ci­ple

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HK COMMENT - JA­SON KUAI The au­thor is ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Strate­gic Stud­ies So­ci­ety and found­ing chair­man of Wis­dom Hong Kong.

The op­po­si­tion camp has com­plained that the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment on con­sti­tu­tional re­form re­leased by the Hong Kong SAR Gov­ern­ment in­cluded too many com­ments from cen­tral gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials about con­sti­tu­tional re­form in Hong Kong. But as Chief Sec­re­tary for Ad­min­is­tra­tion Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said, dis­cus­sions about con­sti­tu­tional re­form re­quire an un­der­stand­ing of ju­rispru­dence. She ex­plained that com­ments by cen­tral gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with rel­e­vant laws in the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment were in­tended to clar­ify th­ese is­sues.

Sec­re­tary for Jus­tice Yuen Kwok-ke­ung also stressed that the cen­tral gov­ern­ment ul­ti­mately had re­spon­si­bil­ity for im­ple­ment­ing con­sti­tu­tional re­form in Hong Kong.

He said the op­po­si­tion’s ob­jec­tions to com­ments by cen­tral gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment was ac­tu­ally a breach of the “One Coun­try, Two Sys­tems” prin­ci­ple.

Yuen said the op­po­si­tion par­ties were de­fy­ing the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s au­thor­ity over the im­ple­men­ta­tion of uni­ver­sal suf­frage. They were, there­fore, alien­at­ing them­selves from Hong Kong’s con­sti­tu­tional de­vel­op­ment as a Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China, he said.

They also showed that their real in­ten­tions were to dis­rupt the next Chief Ex­ec­u­tive elec­tion. Their goal in seek­ing au­ton­omy for Hong Kong is re­ally to deny China its sovereignty over the ter­ri­tory. They need to re­al­ize that ev­ery­one in so­ci­ety has to ad­here firmly to the “One Coun­try, Two Sys­tems” prin­ci­ple dur­ing the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Dis­cus­sions about im­ple­ment­ing uni­ver­sal suf­frage also have to re­spect the Ba­sic Law. Ac­cord­ing to the Ba­sic Law, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment is not only re­spon­si­ble for, but to­tally com­mit­ted to, im­ple­ment­ing uni­ver­sal suf­frage in Hong Kong.

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g Kong res­i­dents only be­came mas­ters of their own house af­ter the han­dover — thanks to the ‘One Coun­try Two Sys­tems’ prin­ci­ple. The idea of ‘Hong Kong peo­ple gov­ern­ing Hong Kong’ as well as hav­ing un­prece­dented au­ton­omy was only es­tab­lished by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment.”

In the 16 years since the han­dover, it has been com­mon to hear peo­ple say they pre­fer in­creased au­ton­omy to pro­tect­ing sovereignty. Ef­forts to sep­a­rate Hong Kong from the coun­try, by cit­ing dif­fer­ences be­tween cap­i­tal­ism and so­cial­ism, have also been com­mon. The op­po­si­tion par­ties’ re­jec­tion of com­ments by cen­tral gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment, is just their lat­est act of de­fi­ance of the “One Coun­try, Two Sys­tems” prin­ci­ple.

Ear­lier at­tempts to chal­lenge the prin­ci­ple in­cluded the Hong Kong Bar As­so­ci­a­tion’s (HKBA) de­mand for “a na­tional right to self­de­ter­mi­na­tion” in 2002, when Civic Party leader Alan Leong Ka-kit was head of the HKBA. Slo­gans like “give the gov­ern­ment back to the peo­ple” were made dur­ing mass demon­stra­tions on July 1, 2003. Other ex­am­ples in­clude the “five-con­stituency ref­er­en­dum” staged by the Civic Party and the League of So­cial Democrats in 2010 and ac­tions ad­vo­cat­ing “Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence” in the past two years or so.

The most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple of the op­po­si­tion camp’s in­ten­tions to chal­lenge the “One Coun­try, Two Sys­tem” prin­ci­ple and deny the cen­tral gov­ern­ment its con­sti­tu­tional au­thor­ity is the il­le­gal “Oc­cupy Cen­tral” cam­paign. This shows that the op­po­si­tion is try­ing to seize con­trol of the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong res­i­dents never had the right to choose a leader dur­ing more than 150 years of colo­nial rule. All Hong Kong gover­nors were ap­pointed by Lon­don. It was not un­til the 1980s that the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment be­gan in­tro­duc­ing a more rep­re­sen­ta­tive leg­is­la­ture as part of its strat­egy of “pit­ting the Chi­nese against them­selves”. The Bri­tish had ul­te­rior mo­tives with their “demo­cratic de­vel­op­ment” of Hong Kong. It was re­ally prompted by the be­lief that China would re­sume sov­er­eign rule over Hong Kong no mat­ter what.

Hong Kong res­i­dents only be­came mas­ters of their own house af­ter the han­dover — thanks to the “One Coun­try Two Sys­tems” prin­ci­ple. The idea of “Hong Kong peo­ple gov­ern­ing Hong Kong” as well as hav­ing un­prece­dented au­ton­omy was only es­tab­lished by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment. This, of course, in­cludes the right to vote for the leader of the gov­ern­ment.

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment has al­ways been com­mit­ted to ad­vanc­ing democ­racy in Hong Kong with the ul­ti­mate goal of elec­tions by uni­ver­sal suf­frage. Oth­er­wise, it would not have writ­ten this into the Ba­sic Law when it was not men­tioned dur­ing the Sino-Bri­tish Joint Dec­la­ra­tion. A timetable for im­ple­ment­ing uni­ver­sal suf­frage in Hong Kong would not have oc­curred with­out de­ci­sions by the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress.

Anti-cen­tral gov­ern­ment rhetoric or ac­tions ad­vo­cat­ing “Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence” will not suc­ceed as long as the so­ci­ety ad­heres to the “One Coun­try, Two Sys­tems” prin­ci­ple. Pa­tri­otic cit­i­zens in Hong Kong must up­hold this prin­ci­ple. They must pro­tect na­tional sovereignty be­cause Hong Kong’s fu­ture sta­bil­ity de­pends on it.

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