China has removed key phrases relating to Hong Kong from a report by its highest political consultative body and replaced them with language that appears to signal a new stance.
Gone are “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and “high degree of autonomy”, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.
Also, the document said China will “fully and precisely” implement its governing principle on Hong Kong, replacing the word “unwaveringly” used last year in conjunction with “one country, two systems”.
The report was presented by Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), at the start of the 12th national committee session in Beijing.
The document said “Beijing supports the government of Hong Kong and Macau and their leaders” but omitted any references to administrative autonomy.
Critics accused Beijing of wavering in its commitment to “one country, two systems” and weakening its promised high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong said he was not surprised by the wording after China’s State Council issued a white paper last year in which it said Beijing is the source of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
This was followed by a ruling by the National People’s Congress (NPC) on a framework for the 2017 chief executive election which gives China the right to pre-screen candidates.
Leong said the NPC decision ended Beijing’s promise to give Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years after its 1997 handover from Britain.
CPPCC deputy Ambrose Lau defended the report, saying the terms “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and “high degree of autonomy” are already in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution.
Meanwhile, CPPCC deputy Lau Siu-kai, former chief adviser to the Hong Kong government, said Beijing and Hong Kong should work to ensure a more active role for the latter in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan.
That would help ease cross-border tensions and discourage separatist ideas in Hong Kong, Lau said.
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