20 April 2019
NPC chief Zhang Dejiang addresses a gathering at the central government offices in Hong Kong before leaving for Beijing on Thursday. Photo: CNSA
NPC chief Zhang Dejiang addresses a gathering at the central government offices in Hong Kong before leaving for Beijing on Thursday. Photo: CNSA

Self-determination, independence attempts doomed to fail: Zhang

Hong Kong will suffer if the “one country, two systems” principle and the Basic Law are discarded, China’s third-highest ranking leader said on Thursday.

Before concluding a three-day trip to the city, Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said it is in the interests of Hong Kong people that everyone respects the one country principle and the city’s mini-constitution.

Speaking to a group of people who met him at the Central Government Offices here, Zhang noted that Hong Kong is a diverse society and hence it is understandable that there are multifaceted cultures, thoughts and interests among locals.

However, care should be taken to ensure that any action or appeal will be “for Hong Kong’s good”, said the official, who is the top Beijing man responsible for Hong Kong.

In the meeting that took place before Zhang left for Beijing Thursday afternoon, the Chinese leader warned that any attempt to pursue self-determination or independence for Hong Kong will get nowhere, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

The attempts will not be in the fundamental interests of Hong Kong, Zhang said, adding that he believes that most Hong Kong people will not approve of such campaigns.

The city must focus on economic development to ensure its prosperity, he told representatives from various walks of society.

Summing up the three-day visit paid by China’s No. 3 leader, Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, said the NPC chief were merely trying to tell Hong Kong people that the mainland cares for Hong Kong, and that any independence pursuit will be not only be illegal but will bring disaster to the city.

Former justice secretary Elsie Leung, who is currently deputy director of the Basic Law Committee, said she believes Zhang aimed to assure Hongkongers that Beijing is unwavering in its commitment to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle.

She urged Hong Kong people to stop fretting about past incidents and instead focus on economic issues, especially on how to make the most of China’s “One Belt, One Road” economic program.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Zhang is well aware of the core issues related to Hong Kong, including those pertaining to politics, economy and people’s livelihood.

The government will do its best to satisfy the aspirations of the people, he said.

Ming Pao Daily, meanwhile, cited a source familiar with the central government as saying that Beijing will keep its communication channels open in Hong Kong.

Beijing’s only condition before any talks with the pan-democratic camp is that the latter should not set any unrealistic framework, according to the source.

The source also cited Zhang as saying that the matter of issuing the so-called home return permits for pro-democracy lawmakers will be resolved one day.

Calling Beijing’s openness for communication “a good thing”, Democratic Party Chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing told Apple Daily that the dialogue should be direct rather than having to go through the liaison office.

In other comments, Lau said that she told Zhang at a cocktail reception Wednesday that the liaison office has been interfering with Hong Kong’s elections and in Legislative Council affairs, and even in matters related to the media sector.

Lau Siu-kai, a deputy to China’s highest political advisory body, said Zhang’s interaction with pan-democrats at the cocktail reception can be seen as a breakthrough.

Beijing will definitely take action to improve relations with Hong Kong, he said.

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