Hongkongers shouldn’t fret about Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s recent comments wherein he asserted Beijing’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong, a senior Hong Kong official said on Sunday.
Appearing on a radio program, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen said Xi’s remarks, delivered during an address to the Communist Party congress this month, do not mean that Hong Kong’s autonomy is under threat.
While outlining China’s powers on Hong Kong, Xi also mentioned “One Country, Two Systems” and the need to protect that principle, Yuen said, urging people not to worry about the Chinese president’s remarks or exaggerate a few words.
“If China did not have full jurisdiction over Hong Kong, the city would not have got a high degree of autonomy,” Yuen said, adding that jurisdiction and autonomy do not contradict each other.
In his opening address on Oct. 18 to the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, Xi stressed that Beijing will have to firmly grasp the “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong and Macau that is granted by law, and combine the principle in an “organic” way.
The words prompted concerns in Hong Kong that Beijing is seeking to tighten its control over the territory.
Yuen dismissed the worries, saying Xi’s remarks are in line with the “One Country, Two Systems”.
The official also brushed aside concerns over threats to Hong Kong’s judicial independence, pointing out that foreign judges in the Court of Final Appeal have said several times that they do not see any attempts by Beijing to interfere with litigations in Hong Kong.
Yuen’s remarks echoed what Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said last Friday.
In an article posted on the office’s website, which sought to interpret Xi’s report to the Communist Party congress, Zhang said full jurisdiction is a message aimed at reminding an extremely small number of people who resist or reject the central government’s exercise of power according to law or even challenge the bottom line of the “One country, Two systems” principle in the name of high degree autonomy.
As for comments by his predecessor, Wong Yan-lung, who said last week that it’s a pity to see the oath-taking saga in the Legislative Council end up with the National People’s Congress Standing Committee having to interpret Article 104 of the Basic Law, Yuen reiterated that he believes an issue like that should have been handled by Hong Kong itself.
While claiming that he believes Beijing has its own stance on the matter, Yuen suggested that power of interpreting law be exercised carefully and discreetly.
In other comments, Yuen called on the public not to politicize legal issues and criticize prosecutors of doing their job from political angle, saying such accusations are not fair on the officials.
He stressed that the Department of Justice always does its work according to the Hong Kong law and the city’s constitution, and that there is no such a thing as political interference.
On other matters, Yuen expressed hope that lawmakers will finish debates on the rail link co-location plan within next week based on the non-binding motion moved by Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
The government has absolutely no intention to treat the Legco as a rubber stamp on the matter, the justice chief said.
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