Premier Li Keqiang said the central government will strictly abide by the Chinese constitution as well as the Basic Law in governing Hong Kong.
This is the first time the Chinese leader mentioned the constitution in the part of his annual work report pertaining to Hong Kong.
In his speech before the National People’s Congress on Thursday, Li stressed that the handling of Hong Kong affairs should be “strictly based on the Chinese constitution and the Basic Law”, Ming Pao Daily reported.
He also reiterated the words “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and “high degree of autonomy” in his report.
The terms were removed from Li’s work report last year, raising controversy in the territory.
“Beijing will as always do its best to support and keep enhancing Hong Kong and Macau’s competitiveness,” Li added.
Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, Hong Kong deputy to China’s top lawmaking body, said she thinks Li mentioned the Chinese constitution in his report in response to recent calls for independence in the territory.
It is necessary to remind people that following the constitution is vital to Hong Kong’s development, she said.
Fan also said Li’s use of the words “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and “high degree of autonomy” was meant to ease any apprehension resulting from his omission of those terms in his work report last year.
Lau Siu-kai, former chief adviser to the Hong Kong government and a deputy to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said Li apparently intended to correct some people’s idea that the constitution is not important.
Fellow deputy Michael Tien said Li’s speech was mild and neutral. He believes that the central government does not want to provoke any unnecessary apprehension regarding Beijing’s policy towards Hong Kong, and that Li hopes the proposed political reform could be approved by the local Legislative Council.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said the speech clearly shows that Beijing puts ”one country” ahead of the “two systems” principle.
He said Li wanted Hong Kong people to give up their fight and accept their fate.
Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan noted that most parts of the Chinese constitution do not apply to Hong Kong, and NPC’s decision on the framework for the 2017 chief executive election should be reviewed as it does not hold water from the legal point of view.
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